Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Out the back door,
 down the steps, through the hedge, 
behind the shed
Is a pile.
A mucky messy pile.
The scraps of life.
Fragile, broken eggshells, 
squished up, used up peels and pips and dregs. 
Refuse tossed from the kitchen.


All simmering and shrinking imperceptibly into a small pile of delectable new soil.
The hidden ingredient is time.
God’s work takes time too.
He takes the mucky mess, the fragile, broken pieces and uses it all to work things out for good.

God makes all things new in His time

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

a glimpse into our travels

We went to Europe!
We really did.
A great big geography excursion with our youngest two children.
World schooling. History, art, architecture…lessons for real life!
It's weeks since our return to “normal".
The buzz of adventure has faded to a gentle hum.
Our hearts and horizons have expanded.
While we did visit London, Paris and Rome, we really did not enjoy the main tourist attractions so much.
Our favourite experiences were meandering around the back roads, exploring the countryside on bicycles and wandering cobbled streets in little villages.
Visitors, not tourists.

The highlight was meeting local people.
Travelling can be quite lonely coming in as an outsider.
We flit across the surface of a new country for a brief overview. The best times were connecting with local people and experiencing everyday life in a different culture.
An elderly gentleman hanging out his washing in a little stone courtyard. 
He wore a beret. So natural. So French.
An elderly lady hanging out her washing in a tiny garden with a gorgeous clump of dark red peonies blooming their pretty head off in amongst the unmown grass and weeds.
Italian farmers bouncing along the steep ploughed fields on tractors with tracks.
Italian farmhands pruning gnarly old olive trees.
Bicycle riders bearing baguettes in their baskets after morning shopping.
Not always doing something whiz bang.

The simplicity was being there. Waking up in a cottage in the Italian or French countryside. 
Listening to people talking in a foreign language. Shopping for unusual groceries, sipping coffee on a sidewalk café, watching the people around us living their daily lives.
It was marvelous.
I hope you might enjoy a glimpse into some special memories from our travels.

A blue kettle kind of day

Our kettle broke. Our lovely red kettle.
A mini catastrophe.

Teatime is a hub of our family culture and we don’t live near town. Visitors were coming any minute.
Instead of scurrying off to buy a new one, I remembered we had a kettle we hadn’t christened.

A beautiful blue enamel kettle.

I’d been longing to take it camping for steaming mugs of tea in the bush.
We often stress and scramble when we could choose to be more resourceful.
The blue kettle has stayed and actually makes a pretty picture in the kitchen.
It turns an ordinary routine into a moment of beauty. 
I feel cheerful just looking at it.
It is also very sketchable.
I sketched it one morning last week. 
Something I want to make more time for. 
To just do instead of making excuses.
To capture the simple beauty of an ordinary moment.

                         What is it you keep jotting down on your                      want-to-make-time-for list?
What do you keep writing and just not getting to?
It is really satisfying to actually do. that. thing. 
It can be so simple.
To go for a walk. To read aloud to my children.
To sketch something.
To tidy that hideous cupboard.
Today I did and felt quite pleased with myself.
It also gave momentum.
Once that was behind me, I felt liberated to keep going with another tough task.
Or keep sketching!

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Some dreams are too poignant and precious to put into words. Like delicate bubbles, they are fragile. To expose them to the light of day too soon might threaten to burst the exquisite sense of anticipation. Of possibility.
To talk about personal ideas publicly threatens to belittle them. Unuttered, they are like hidden treasure, buried safely away where words cannot express something too deep for words.
I have held a dream in my heart that God has tucked safely away for decades. Until now, it has not been the right season. Like a bulb, buried in the earth, the dream is about to burst forth and blossom.
It is hard to comprehend. Now it is finally time.  I am about to embark on something so wonderful I can hardly speak of it and put it ‘out there’.
But the motivation behind sharing is to inspire you to dream of your own adventure and put the hard work in to make it a reality.

Flowers can transport you. In my case, they really are taking me places. Flowers have bought my ticket to travel. Well, actually, my husband’s ticket.
I have longed to go to Europe since before I met Andrew. He said we would go together one day.
Now we are –  35 years later.
It became my catchcry. Andrew is not as keen to travel as I am, but I said if I bought his ticket, he couldn’t say no!
That has been the reason behind growing hundreds of flowers to sell these past two years.
To take him to Italy.
How can a full-time, home schooling mother of eight children living in a rural area make some money to contemplate the possibility of travelling? How can I earn some funds to explore this big wide beautiful world?
Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are.
That’s my motto.
I live in an area with deliciously rich soil, plenty of water and I love gardening.
So I grew flowers!
Commit your plans to the Lord and He shall bring them to pass.
I did and He has.
He is the caretaker of the deepest desires of our hearts. If something is meant to be, those hopes and dreams are safe with Him. He sifts and sorts our plans and ideas as we walk with Him and follow His lead. God is never in a hurry. He has work to accomplish in the preparation. Those three words….In The Meantime. Oh!! Those loooonnnnggg meantimes. The waiting. The wondering. The doubts, the questions. The chaffing as He polishes us and refines the very essence of our character. The lessons in trust and patience.
The peace that can only come when we trust God’s perfect timing.       
I do not want to wait until my children are grown and leave home to fulfil the longing for adventure. It will be awhile off yet! Eight children, roughly two years apart.
I actually want to have some fun with them along the way! We can explore together and share the journey!
I like their company. And I hope they don’t mind mine. I don’t think they will say no to Paris, London or Rome.
Even writing those words is surreal.
I am pinching myself. Paris? London? Rome?
Europe? Moi?
This time tomorrow, the four of us will be winging our way across to the other side of this great big beautiful world to explore together.
My husband and me with our two youngest children as a grand hurrah to homeschooling for 25 years.
Home educating is multi faceted. It is not one dimensional. Books and pages and words.
Education can be so much more. Experiences bring learning to life. To travel is to open up a whole new world.
I am excited not to be a tourist. I just want to absorb other cultures. To listen and touch and smell and taste and see that the Lord is good over there too. To watch people live their lives in another culture. Italians. French. To revisit the Scottish and the English and introduce my children to places that seem so familiar because we have read about them together since they were babies.
Visiting Britain was like walking into books I’d grown up with and then shared with my children. I am looking forward to sharing those familiar places, especially Arthur Ransome’s Lake District. We shall definitely be messing about in boats.
Au revoir!

Photos by Briony Scotton

Monday, October 23, 2017

sunday afternoons

When was the last time you pulled up a chair and sat in the sunshine? 
We are meant to enjoy being in our garden. To simply be. Not do. I am pretty good at turning a blind eye to 'to dos'. I think that's a gift, just quietly. If I waited until everything was ticked off, I would never relax!
This sunny spring weather beckons me outdoors.
Last week was big. I actually wrote down everything that happened and nearly hyperventilated. It wasn't busy. It was big. A friend's death and then funeral, extended family visiting leading to my dad's 80th birthday party, family issues and even the dog getting pregnant from Jo Blo up-the-road. (stressful) There's always something going on! Saying farewell to my daughter going off to Africa for nine weeks in the midst of preparing church music, having young adults to stay and hosting a homeschooling afternoon sharing a lesson in watercolour painting. Phew.
Sunday afternoon was a time to breathe.
I kicked off my shoes and sat outside with a cuppa and a book. Then opened my art eyes and got inspired by this gorgeous Vulcan magnolia in all its magenta glory. I actually did some sketching!
It was bliss.

pretty imperfection

Heavy rain - as in ONE FOOT of rain (300mls) this month has been fantabulous.
It was so hot and dry in September that we were desperate. The season forgot it was spring and thought it had skipped ahead to summer!
The little patch of delphiniums was parched and struggling. We bought half a tank of water for the first time since we moved here 18 years ago, just to keep the garden alive and hoped to pull through the flowers we had invested in.
Then it rained and I thought they would drown!
They sprouted in all directions and became so sodden, the heavy stems bent under the weight of the flowers.
I picked up two soggy stems that had snapped off short and put them in a tiny vase. The colours were surreal. Beautiful shades of blue tinged with mauve.
They made my fingers tingle to capture them in this little watercolour painting.
They remind me not to underestimate the beauty of imperfection.
We tend to reject something if we compare it to what it should look like.
Appreciate something on its own merit.
It can stand tall alone.
It doesn't have to measure up to something else.

I am just a dabbler in art. There sure is plenty of room for improvement!
I have given myself permission to appreciate all that I am learning and practicing. 
To enjoy the journey.
It is so much fun to splash gorgeous colours around.
I don't want to spoil my own enjoyment by comparing myself to others - especially experts who have studied art and painted for years. 
It just makes me happy!
And I am surprised how it touches others with a breath of fresh air because it is loose and light and breezy.
Do something that makes your heart sing this week. 
You don't have to be an expert in whatever it is you want to try.
Relax and enjoy the process.

rugosa roses

Rugosa roses are lovely. The rich colour and scent is something special. I remember reading in the beautiful cookbook "Rose Petal Jam" by Beata Zatorska, that her Polish grandmother made rose petal jam out of this variety.
I noticed a different kind of beauty here once the petals fell and before the blooms turned into a rosehip.
I like these quirky spiky bits.
We get so fixated on a finished product that we overlook the process. 
We disregard the different stages. 
The garden communicates all sorts of messages when I listen.
What is your garden telling you this week?