Merry Christmas and After The Rain 3

Merry Christmas! I hope everybody has a lovely time and spend time with loved ones, get some time to rewind and relax.

We are celebrating at a very very low pace and it is becoming us well – Christmas eve we were just the 4 of us here, eating good food and opening a few presents, finishing the evening playing a board game with the kids. Christmas day we were with friends, celebrating an English christmas, crackers included.

This past year we have talked a lot about Christmas, because last year Marcus was stressed about all the things he “had” to do to make Christmas special for the kids – but by virtue of him being stressed it turned out less “hyggeligt” than he imagined, which was the opposite of what he wanted… So we talked about not doing anything this year, except presents, and going out on Christmas eve, and not making homemade cookies etc. etc. But we decided against it, because we actually love all those things – including the big Christmas dinner.

We didn’t really decide to cut anything, but to take it slow. We bought the Christmas tree the second week of December and decorated it the next day – it has been standing there in our living room all beautiful and spreading happiness all month – and will be there until January 7th. Cookies were still baked, but a little at a time, and Marcus decided that he was under no pressure to make any specific number, just to do what he felt like – the kids and he have had a lovely time baking together, and there has been no stress. The kids and I went to see the lights in Malaga with friends,  a lovely evening. We have had a traditional Danish Christmas lunch with friends – another lovely evening, and the same day we went to the Danish Christmas market in Fuengirola. So we have been celebrating a lot. But none of it has been stressful, and if any of us have been overwhelmed, we were ready to cancel. Actually we have had more activity out of the house this year than the past 3 years, and we have had more days of Christmas preperation and hygge at home than usual, but it hasn’t felt stressful at all – it is all about the mindset.

Yesterday we were supposed to go to a birthday party with friends in Antequerra, but Marcus and the kids had a cold, and I was coming down from a cold… so we decided to stay home and relax. Miriam and I have been lying in bed watching girly movies, Marcus has spent some time drawing with Lucas (he got an electronic pen from my mother for Christmas), and the rest of the day he was watching some history lectures on YouTube.

Today I have spent most of the day outside – finishing the swale on our terrace where the water is now flowing from the river. The water has slowed down enough for it to sit on the terrace and filter in which gave me a great opportunity to dig the swale while I could see what my efforts meant for the water flow. I’ve included a small video of what I have done here – it is very raw and unedited, but if I am going to make any videos that is how it needs to be!

In the coming year I want to post a lot more on here, including videos – and I want to spend a lot more time in the garden. I would love if we could become almost self-sufficient with meat in 2017. I want to figure out a way to manage my Facebook time! I don’t want to leave Facebook entirely – since I have met so many wonderful people through it – some of whom are coming to help us with our projects January, February and March. But Facebook really fuels my anger, and it is anger at things I have no influence over, so it is really a waste of time. I need to think about how I can find a healthy balance.

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Stil alive on the Mountain

Yes, we are still here on our mountain. The last year have been hard. A family conflict ripped up in a lot of old trauma. Trauma that I have been working very hard on not looking at – because I knew that if I did I would end up like a small curled up ball in bed – and I didn’t have time for that! But it exploded inside me and I had to – I couldn’t go on ignoring it, because it was eating me up. I have ADD like symptoms – some psychologists suggest that they are coping mechanisms. It was affecting my ability to be the mom I want to be, the wife I want to be – to live the life I want to live.

The thing is though that there is a life after the state of being curled up in bed. It has required that I work with myself, and at times it is hard work – and at times I am unsure if I am willing to do it, because it is too hard. But – living a life where doing the dishes often seems like an impossible task, is just not worth it…

I often think that this is part of Permaculture too – and an important one; that we need to heal ourselves to heal this planet. Hurt people hurt people, and over-spend and over-consume in and effort to escape the pain.

Gardening is pure therapy for me, especially composting… I had never thought that it would be even remotely interesting to me – but the smell and feel of compost between my hands just makes me happy. I have had a long period where I didn’t even to that – because even doing things that make me happy was too much. But recently I have returned to the soil – starting out by just sitting on the stairs from our terrace and just looking out on the landscape, observing, feeling the sun on my face. Then slowly walking around, investigating this that or the other – taking my time, doing the work that I feel like doing, and only that for as long as I want to do it. No shoulds, no have tos. I have made a small vegetable bed, I have carried wood to make a hügel, I have sifted through a few 100L of worm castings – this is the most therapeutic of all the tasks ( I would love those worms to be a little faster at processing their food, but I guess that I have to practise some acceptance in that direction).

It is not much sh*t that gets done this way – it has taken 6 months to not quite finish a run for our rabbit colony. But we are moving along, we are still here – and we will get there poco a poco. I have posts that I want to write now – about the worm farm, the rabbits, the moringa tree. I have sh*t I want to get done. I have sun that I need on my skin and a body that needs to be moved around. It will still be slow progress – but slow and steady etc.

P.S. I am not checking Facebook to see comments – my ADD can’t handle it, and all my inner agression come out on Facebook… it just isn’t pretty.

Raw milk

I’ve started buying raw goat milk from my neighbor. After weeks without milk in my coffee this tastes like heaven! Creamy, fat deliciousness ❤️

New Years – Happines and Greatfulness

Happy New Year 🙂

I know, I know – it is just a day like any other day, nothing special about it. And yet it is – because we give it meaning. Because we choose to give it meaning. Humans like rituals I think – and New Years is a ritual. However you choose to celebrate it (or not).

I celebrated with my little Nuclear family: Husband and kids. We had Champagne (or Cava – metode traditionelle) and Lobster, Iberian pork and loads of fresh steamed veggies, with loads of butter for dinner. It was lovely.

I was also sick – and did whish that I could postpone New Years a day or two – so I could get better. I guess I could have. But that is the thing about rituals and traditions – if you don’t do it right (and by right I mean the way you think it should be) then it doesn’t really matter. Had I moved the New Years party till today it just wouldn’t have been the same. So I didn’t.

As I sit here in my new living room I contemplate how lucky I am, and how happy I am. It is a great way to start a new year – any new day for that matter. I love living here – I love my house, I love the climate, I love the culture around here, I love the Spanish mentality.

Yesterday I woke up, and I could feel that cold coming on, I lay on the couch and felt a little sorry for my self. The guys who are fixing our terrace came, and started working – knocked on my door and presented me with a giant flower and a bottle of red wine. That gave me the energy to get up and get going. Such a small random act of kindness, and it sent me of on my way.

Kindness is so important – just before Christmas one of my friends gifted me a solar oven, just because. How awesome is that? Our neighbours help us with problems with our gestor (accountant) – who stole a lot of money from us. So yeah, there is that problem with a guy who has stolen money from us. But neighbours standing up for us helping us get our money back. And a lawyer, whom we have never met, helping us out for free – just because it is decent and the right thing to do. It just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. We are trying to deal with it without involving the state… But we might have to involve them at some point. But just seeing how many people are willing to help us, not for any personal gain, but just because is really encouraging.

When people talk about gift economy – this is part of what they want. But I think they are overlooking something. Eg. if the lawyer does not act as fast as I want, I cannot complain, because he is helping me for free. if my neighbour gives me honey, but not wine (both is produced on his land), that is his choice not mine (I can refuse to accept his gift though). Gift economies are inherently complicated and full of invisible IOUs. If you accept that, then it is a beautiful thing. If not it can be a restraint – including a social restraint, that many modern people do not want in their lives.

Currently I am thinking about ways to pay it forward – to help other people become more independent in their own life. I really want to do that – without expecting reciprocality. But I find that often I am met with demands and expectations, which makes me wobble – thinking that I should change myself in order to meet other people’s needs, which ultimately makes me feel like not sharing and giving at all. Finding a way to share without feeling a need to give in to demands I feel resentment against is hard. I think it is part of our cultural fabric, and part of the cultural fabric that I wish to shed. I sincerely want to help other people, but I also want to learn to do it in a way that allows me to preserve my self-respect. In other words I need to learn how to be kind and assertive at the same time. When we grow up we often learn that it is a question of either/or – I think it can be both.

I see my kids be fiercely independent at times, and just as generous and loving at others. Sometimes they are both at the same time – sharing, and giving, while establishing what they want to share, and what they don’t want to share – how they would like to help, and how they will not. When we demand children share, to help etc. we rob them of an opportunity to be truly generous – and also of an opportunity to establish firm borders between themselves and their friends or family-members. To know who you truly are, those borders have to be established. My kids who have had the opportunity to establish those borders all through their lives are living examples for me – they give and share without thought of reciprocality, but when needed (in their judgement) they say no without guilt. I am learning from them every day.

Merry Christmas

Tomorrow we have been here in our house a year – thinking back is amazing. We have learned so much – about Permaculture and about ourselves. We have gained new friends, who share many of our values in life, which make us feel even more at home here in Malaga.

As I walk around the house, I feel more at home than any other place I’ve ever lived. I can’t wait to get started with the gardens next year. I can’t wait to learn even more about Permaculture. I can’t wait to build further on my new friendships. To go on field trips with the kids, to do projects with them at home, to enjoy them every day as they grow and learn.

I have decided that next year I will focus on the positive. On seeing the positive side of things, yes – but mostly on what I can do to make the world a better place to live. This includes focusing on that which I can affect and not on the things I can’t. I will focus on my marriage, my kids, my land, my friendships and my community. I will do my best to live purposefully and with integrity. I have started doing this already, and I find that it is making my life happier and more productive. I aspire to live to be the change I want to see in the world.

Through the last 8 years I have met some amazing people through the Home School and Permaculture networks and I have learned immensely from them. I want to affect people positively, just like these people have affected me positively. I am so happy to have met these people. They are teaching me to speak softly even about hard issues – which is really hard for me.

I sometimes get really really angry when I experience children treated with less respect than adults, just because they are children. But I realise that I reach no-one by shouting at them. I get angry by the way the world is run, but achieve nothing by demanding that everyone sees it my way. These people that I admire so much reach so many people through their ability to communicate their message in non-violent way, and I wish to learn how to do the same thing. Voluntary communication is essential in a voluntary society – I think. And I want to learn that. This also means that I need to realise what my sphere of control is, and what is outside my sphere of control. Permaculture – here on my land, and teaching it to people who want to learn is within my sphere of control. Treating my family and my friends, people in my community with compassion and helping where I can, without loosing sight of my own wants, needs and goals is another one. Giving my kids as much freedom and as much love and presence is definitely one. Trying to live so that I do not contribute to violence is. Writing about it and talking about it – passionately and lovingly, to people who want to hear this is too. Trying to convince people who don’t want to hear what I want to say is not.

I am learning and growing – this year I have learned more and grown more than ever before. I want this trend to continue.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Getting things done

So when 3 months passes people start asking us if we have given up – and of course if you don’t see us, and talk to us, but only follow the blog and youtube channel it may seem that way (actually – wow, that people we don’t know follow us – honored – thank you!). And knowing how many of these projects actually fail, it does seem likely that we have given up, so why haven’t we?

I heard a quote the other day from John Taylor Gatto – that persistence is the number one deciding factor in success, I think that is the primary reason. I said something along those lines to Marcus a few months ago too: That what made the difference as to whether a new business made it or not, was not the number of blows you got, but the number of times you got back up. It was right after one of those failures with the water. Later that same night, I asked him “do you think we have it in us to make it through? Or are we just big city wimps with a silly dream?” and he looked at me at looked at the view and said “Would you trade this view for anything? Would you be happier in our terraced rental in the pueblo?” And no I wouldn’t – so we got back up and dealt with it.

We get things done – maybe not always as fast as we’d like, but we get things done. We get up again the next morning and get to it. Sometimes in our enthusiasm we run in 500 different directions, nothing gets done and we burn out. But then we take a day off or two, then we refocus and go on. It is not easy – even if it sounds that way. Like right now we have a deal – that we need to finish the house – and I would much much rather be gardening… So I procrastinate those windows – I am only missing one, and my husband has helped me paint 4 in the past month, but I push it aside, because I would rather be gardening…

Today the homeschool group was here – and one of the moms had brought a lot of seed for our community garden. We made a road going up to our fairy garden, and planted along side the road – rosemary, thyme, sage – it sounds almost like a song. It felt like a song, sitting there in the sun with children’s hands spreading seeds more or less randomly around me – and me covering them with rocks and leaves. “This is what I should be doing!” I thought, but those windows need painting – otherwise the wood will be destroyed, by the rain in the winter and the sun in the summer – waste of money, and thus of time. Then it is good to have those two days a week, with the home school group – where we completely immerse ourselves in the life in the campo. Healthy – soul work Paul Wheaton would call it.

So we take it one step at a time, one step – and it might not feel like a permaculture place yet, because we don’t have food systems in place – but first we need this roof over our heads to not feel temporary. And we allow ourselves to use technology, and not get too caught up in ideology. So yes maybe it is better to do the dishes by hand (though some would argue that it isn’t), but if I hate it and it takes away time from gardening and the kids, (and painting those windows) then a dishwasher is a pretty good investment. And yes we have a washing machine and invested in it as one of the first things (so as to not have to drive to Fuengirola every week to do laundry), and not all our food is organic, because that would mean me driving all over the Malaga province every week to source it… Practicallity sometimes (often) takes the front seat, because we want this experience to be a happy one – we don’t want to break our necks on it.

One of the advices we get from the permaculture design manual is not to do it all a once, to first start by eliminating the need for an income – one of the things I’ve learned from the unschooling community is that no one can save the world alone – and that we need to be OK with not being perfect simply because we can’t do it all (at least not without getting a fungal infection). We already eliminated the need for one income, by simply being (more) frugal – now our dependence on somebody offering Marcus a job is declining by the day: The mortgage will be payed off in two years, we have our own well and thus free water, we will be getting solar panels soon (hopefully) and we will plant stuff, we will have animals. One thing at a time. By the time we have those things in place – the need to make money will be very small. Any money coming in that way will be surplus, which we will return to the land – we will use it to build earthworks, buy plants etc. Bit by bit we will be more and more independent. Have more and more time for the soul work. In order to get there though – we need to do the bread work – ie. painting those windows (and doors).

Cacti and liver

OK, odd headline since it isn’t season for cactus figs. But it isn’t because we ate the cacti, it’s just that I found some really beautiful ones at our local plant nursery. Plus I don’t have a picture of the liver.
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We had rabbit today – the recipe is from a Danish chef living close to Jerez de la Frontera (maybe I should ask him if it’s OK that I publish it I English – to those who read Danish it’s from Annemad I Spanien). I bought it at my favourite butcher – favourite because his sausages contain meat, fat and spices – and his spices don’t include lactose. The rabbit included kidneys, liver, lungs and hart. I don’t (or didn’t) like liver – but ethically I don’t like throwing away good food either. So I found a recipe – and Solo en Españad it (thank you Chicha Analuza for coining that frase, or at least something kinda like it).

I took:

  • One large onion
  • Intestine (hart, lungs liver) from one rabbit
  • Olive oil
  • A sprig of thyme
  • One clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Two small avocado
  • A few drops of lemon juice

I chopped the onion up and sautéed in olive oil with thyme and chopped garlic for about 5 mins. Added the intestine and stirred and fried for 5 mins, stirred again and fried under lid for 3 more mins and served with sliced avocado dripped w. lemon juice and just a drip of salsa brava (used because we had no catsup or ketchup but Absolutely Fabulus!). It was a beautiful thing! The kids even had some. Well Lucas ate the hart and the lungs, didn’t like the liver. Miriam ate the liver – didn’t get to taste the other organs as her brother had it all).

And here is where I ponder on how my daddy used to force me to eat things – like liver – because it was healthy or to develop my tastebuds or whatever… And the only result has been that I gagged every time I tasted liver since. Way to go making healthy stuff seem gross! My mother in law on the other hand would serve up chicken liver, hart etc as a special treat for my husband “I made this special for you honey!” My mom would say that some foods, like snails, were “grown-up foods, that you probably don’t like” (mainly BC she didn’t want to buy expensive food the have me say “Yuck!” at it) – and I was jumping up and down to get to taste it. Wonder what those results say about force and learning?
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Frugal Chicken

20130107-222232.jpgIt is a new year – and this blog is starting a new phase: Not only am I writing in English, but the focus has changed. Well not really – I’ll still be writing about food now and then, but I will also be writing about alot of other things. Moving to Spain has changed a lot in our lives – one of them being that we have become more policially aware. And more aware of what we want with our lives. So how does that combine with a food blog? I does because I have always been fascinated by the ways people used to do all this “food thing” – before supermarkets and friges etc.

I’ll talk more about the whole political aspect – one day. When I’m not overtired, alone with kids etc. For now I’ll just talk about the chick on the pic. See – she was €12 worth – and that’s a lot in a country where poultry is subsidised by the government! But she is free range, corn fed, and lovely 😉

So, according to my new found principles I opted for her instead of her somewhat cheaper sister in the supermarket – at about €7 – knowing that she’d lived a miserable life and would satisfy no one. Over the Christmas I borrowed a summerhouse in Denmark of a dear lady – who is a food head much like myself  – and I read about the French chickens going at €30-40 a piece, and how delicious they were. Compared to those, this lady is a bargin. Actually – I came home from the market with a trolly (you know the ones that elderly ladies have) full of fresh veggies, a crate of strawberries (no not organic), two fresh ocean caught fish, 12 organic eggs – and some hygiene products from a local “Mom & Pop” shop all in all €65. Having spent €30 just going down the shop for lunch (in Denmark) – this was a treat!

But but but – no matter how I try to explain – paying €12 for at chicken is a lot. So I better make the most of it! And I have! First day – I roasted it in the oven with potatoes, baby carrots and wild asparagus (somewhat more bitter, than their commercial counterpart). Loads of homegrown herbs ind their stomac, along with a whole garlic (Spanish of course – I’ll write you a post on that some time soon). I brushed her with home made herb salt and olive oil and roasted her for about an hour in the oven – I honestly cannot say at which temperature, because my oven is quite Spanish – and she was all gold and bubly when she came out. We feasted! The kids mostly on meat (they need it, they are growing) me on meat as well as veggies. But all though none of us held back, we did not even eat half a chicken! Seriously – we ate a leg and a wing, that’s it! Normally we would eat two legs and maybe a wing – but there was so much fat on this lady, and the meat so satisfying, we did not need that much.

So what to do with the leftovers? First I plucked the meat off the bones – enough for a whole meal (or two), then I’ve boiled a broth. The first broth (cause I will boil several) will be used for a soup. Tomorrow we’ll be having chicken/corn soup – with broth of the bones of this chicken, and the meat i picked off of her after boiling her for 4-5 hours. After I picked the meat off the bones I put the bones in a large saucepan and covered them with water, added a few tsb of alt and some apple vinegar. The herbs and garlic were still inside the carcass – just to add flavor.  After a few hours i sieved the bones from the broth and picked the last pieces of meat off of them (quite a lot actually). I’ll boil broth off of the chicken the next week – and use it to boil rice etc. Why? Because there are many nutrients in bone broth – one of them being calcium, which my son don’t get enough of since he has dairy allergies (and he does not like milk replacements). I’ve heard – but not confirmed – that you should be able to boil broth off of the bones for a week and still get good things from it. I’ll try that and see how it works.

Before I leave I just want to show you my new gärtöpfe – yes a yeastcasserole I think it would translate to… It is a tool with which you make craut – saurcarut to be specific. Or salzgurken or… what ever salty, yeasty you want. It is yet another part of our adventure towards spending less, producing more, and being healthier. Anyways: I wanted, and put on my wishlist, a 5L version. My husband bought me a 15L version. I’ll just call it love!

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Jeg har slået mine blogs sammen

Jeg skriver ikke nok på de to blogs til at forsvarre at have dem begge – det bliver for tyndt. Derfor har jeg slået dem sammen. Så må jeg sørge for at markere dem grundigt i kategorier med tags etc. Det betyder at der bliver rodet og redigeret lidt de næste par dage – men nu skal jeg se lidt film med mine børn og holde lidt om dem.

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