Simple Living

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“We’d incorporated Asia into our bones – its colours and laughter, its smells, its rhythms, its tolerance and patience, its compassion, its lack of ageism.”
~ Jane Wilson-Howarth

DSC00922DSC00921DSC00920DSC00915Colour is important to me, as you can see from both the cottage and the garden.

DSC00917DSC00916I am led to infuse it into my daily life, as in the tie-dyed sheet that hangs as a curtain on the old doorway.

DSC00914Sometimes it’s all too easy to go to the shops and buy what is deemed suitable for covering a doorway…usually a door!

DSC00912But, as always, a cottage can be very forgiving and accommodating to whatever furniture or resources one has.

DSC00905A cottage is never in competition with the big, new house down the road!

DSC00906It’s more of a “make do and mend” kind of home, where anything goes, be it period or modern, or just recycled, as is the case here at Bealtaine.

DSC00907As I snapped these photos this morning, my gaze was being continually led outside…and so it should be, for that connectivity is immensely important.

DSC00911I recall living in an old house in Muswell Hill in London and how I loved tending the window boxes beyond the old sash windows. DSC00909How just the simple act of pushing them up and the outside coming in provided a kind of release of energy both ways!

DSC00908The connectivity of life!

 

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A Simple Life

Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

a real sofa bedThis is a real sofa bed.

It’s a bed, with a cover and lots of cushions.

sitting roomI needed another sofa in my sitting room.

Simple.

No fuss.

Looks good and is inter-changeable.

Cost: zero!

Mosaic mirrorMost of what I have in my home cost zero.

Like this fancy mirror above the mantle piece…born from broken mirrors and turned into a mirror mosaic.

Cost: zero.

The mantle piece cost 50 euros in a second-hand furniture shop.

mosaic floorThe simplicity of living, almost cash free, is liberating and allows one to appreciate everything that comes ones way.

Like this mosaic floor, created from broken tiles, throw-a ways from a consumer driven society.

mosaic floorLife within the shop-till-you-drop, over-burdened, corporate-controlled madness that passes as culture, is beginning to wane.

mosaic floorMore people are awakening to the liberation of simplicity…a simple life.

Bog Oak garden sculptureOne where culture is developed and creativity valued.

A piece of Bog Oak, found on the…

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A Day of Sustainable Living at Bealtaine Cottage

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Sewing patchwork today…finishing a bedspread…with the back-door open and the birds singing!

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Producing and using surplus is an integral part of living sustainably. 

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Upcycling our waste in a wasteful society is a way to create growth. 

If there is going to be a future, then our past cannot be used as a template.

We have lived in a state of excess at the cost of the future.

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Making soup today has allowed me to harvest and use vegetables from the garden, especially Spinach.

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…mmm!

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I love Spinach!

With lots planted in the tunnel and heaps of seedlings coming on in pots, this is one winter green of plenty this year!

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There are lots of windfall apples at the moment and this is the time to get out and collect them up for pies and juice.

Stew down the apples ready for a tart and store in the freezer or even can it…that means jar really!

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Having the stove fired up for cooking the soup and baking, means drying clothes in a very natural and cost-free way.

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Cleaned out the hen house and run…now there’s lots of poopy straw to spread on the vegetable beds before I mulch them with cardboard…great, organic and free vegetables for next year!

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The girls are happy! This deep litter allows a good amount of fertile straw to be used in the vegetable gardens and as a fertile mulch…for free…eggs are a sideline!

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Rosehips from the Rosa Rugosa are ripening…these make the very best Vitamin C syrup!

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Beautiful colouring on the Amalanchier trees today.

A feast for the soul!

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Blackberries continue to ripen…free fruit that not enough people bother to pick and use…though more are enjoying the fruits of foraging!

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Cleared the space beneath this Ash tree to make a little sitting and meditation space.

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Made a green juice to start the day, using Apples, Lemon Balm, Mint,  Kale and Wheatgrass from the garden. Now that’s what fired me up for a day of sustainable living!

 

A Simple Life

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“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”

Victoria Moran

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Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. ~Elise Boulding

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Yesterday, I found myself with two juicers.

Through fortune and kindness, my life had become too full, and so I gave one away, to a friend who needs to take good care of her health.

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She was delighted and my cupboard was, once more, roomy and ready to receive.

To live in a state of abundance, it is necessary to practice frugality.

One cannot work without the other.

Abundance needs space to grow!

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Clinging onto what one does not need creates clutter, confusion and chaos.

Is it any wonder the world is in such a state?

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We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it. ~Donald Horban

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The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed — it is a process of elimination. ~Elbert Hubbard

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I have two websites… Bealtaine Cottage and Bealtaine Cottage Good Life.

This site, Bealtaine Cottage, is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life costs 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

Making this small donation adds your name to the subscriber list.

You will then have access to the website and full blog as published twice each week.

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Home Grown and Home Made Food

 

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The cost of food has risen and the overall quality has dropped.

Much of the fruit and vegetables being sold in the supermarkets may look good, but the taste is somewhat lacking. Considering these issues, it is fair to say that there could not be a better time to grow your own food, as well as make, cook and bake your own food!

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Today I have been harvesting potatoes and clearing the beds for the next planting or simply for mulching down with cardboard and straw.

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The compost heap is growing by the day as the beds are cleared and tidied.

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Elsewhere in the gardens, the burgeoning beds await their turn to be harvested.

This Golden Oregano will dry nicely and ensure tasty tomato sauces all winter!

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This is a sheltered part of the fruit gardens to leave the potatoes in the ground for a while to come.

Those at the back of the picture will stay where they are.

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You may remember how I mulched this ground last Autumn, using cardboard, straw and shreddings…now you can see the value of this exercise.

The earth is in good condition and any weeds that did grow were very easy to pull.

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This gives you some idea of how permaculture works…a forest garden with lots of shelter, biodiversity and ultimately, resilience!

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Lots of leaf drop feeds the soil, building a much needed fertility.

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Meanwhile, indoors, one of the few electrical items I own is ready to do a lot of sewing.

I also have a hand sewing machine for less labour intensive tasks.

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And in the kitchen I’ve been baking bread and making Houmous Dip.

There really is no comparison to home made and home grown food!

Bartering

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Bartering home made wine for time spent fixing my computer is fantastic and affordable…this afternoon was spent in the company of two friends, who did great work for me, in return for some giggle tonic; what happens when you drink this potent Blackcurrant wine.

28 June 2014 002Jack has just returned with me from his early evening walk.

He is in desperate need of a brush as he’s moulting all over the place!

He gets all soppy when I brush his coat.

Sheepdogs are very loyal and just a wee bit crazy too!

28 June 2014 005A cottage garden gets away from all sense of colour co-ordination, as you can see here!

Many of the perennials are starting to go over a little bit as the height of Midsummer has passed.

28 June 2014 003This can be a good time to cut back on some in order to get a late summer blossoming too.

The Geranium thrives on a twice yearly cut back.

28 June 2014 006This little Fig tree grows well in a half barrel, being squashed into a tight corner with other plants and even a Rose bush; Figs thrive in tight spots!

28 June 2014 001There was a time when Ireland was dotted with little white-washed cottage, all proudly hosting red Perlagoniums on their low window sills every summer.

Sad to think those days of simple living have passed and people are no happier really!

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Ox-Eye Daisies run riot all over the top part of the gardens, thriving in the limestone gravel with carefree abandon! So often dismissed as weeds, these wild flowers are undemanding and drought tolerant. 

28 June 2014 009Nasturtiums are coming into their own and the bees are having a real feast.

28 June 2014 010An outdoors coffee table and chair…why not?

The Art of Seduction

cropped-www-bealtainecottage-com-0341.jpgRain falls softly as I type.

The day has given way to evening and the sun sets in the west behind the trees.

Autumn 2013 at Bealtaine Cottage 024There is a chill in the air; I have lit the stove.

Birds swoop low over the roof of the lodge; so low, I can hear the sound of their wings.

cropped-www-bealtainecottage-com-0024.jpgOver recent weeks there has been much clearing out of sheds, cupboards and closets, as the energy of approaching Midsummer holds sway.

Through all of this, I have been mindful of need; keeping up a steady flow of goods to charity shops.

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Ever mindful of human need, my mind turns to scarcity.

What does it mean and how does it affect us?

Autumn 2013 at Bealtaine Cottage 020Scarcity is the fundamental economic problem of having seemingly unlimited human wants in a world of limited resources. It states that society has insufficient productive resources to fulfil all human wants and needs.

The art of seduction in society has led to a feeling of scarcity in the mindset of many people.

Solstice morning at Bealtaine Cottage 2013Media and advertisements seduce many into a perpetual state of want; and when not getting what they desire, into a state of perceived deprivation.

The standing stone at Bealtaine Cottage February 2013This is what creates and maintains consumers.

table on the verandaLiving in a corporate society means being a consumer.

cropped-060.jpg It has suited successive governments to align their economic policy with that of corporations, turning us all into little more than consumers.

Autumn 2013 at Bealtaine Cottage 002Every aspect of our lives is heavily weighted in favour of consumption, yet not even the corporate junk food fills us up!

cropped-www-bealtainecottage-com-0141.jpgIn the process of this debasement we have lost our sense of community and dignity.

We have been systematically seduced into a continual state of perceived scarcity…the cause of a deepening unhappiness. 

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Bealtaine Cottage website is free, with over 850 blogs and 3,500+ photographs.

However there is a new website for lovers of all things Bealtaine…

” Bealtaine Cottage Good Life”

To subscribe, a small donation of 12 euros per year, will add your name to the subscriber list.

You will then have access to the website and full blog as published twice each week.

This amounts to 104 publications per year, at a cost of 12 cents each!

Click on button below to make your subscription.

Small Spaces and Tiny Homes

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Tiny homes are becoming popular.

We are realizing the importance of space…the space we actually need to live comfortably.

If I had the opportunity to build another home, it would, undoubtedly, be much, much smaller than Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comLiving comfortably means a warm home, less opening and closing of doors, one big room where all comforts are to be found, much in the same way as the old cottages used to be here in Ireland.

www.bealtainecottage.comHere in this little Lodge, built onto the back of the cottage, constructed mostly from re-cycled materials, over-wintering is now embedded into my lifestyle.

www.bealtainecottage.comEnergy use is one-quarter of that needed for the cottage.

Small pieces of coppiced wood has fed the wood-burning stove, keeping all snug and cosy.

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This was a decision I made out of a challenge, to prove that it was possible to be warm and comfortable through winter…and it is more than possible, it is a new-found freedom!

Cheap energy!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is possible with a multi-faceted approach: one small, medium or even big living space; masses of insulation; small wood-burning stove; low energy lamps; a sofa bed, or, as in my case a bed that doubles as a sofa; woollen blankets and rugs; thick curtains and menu plan for cooking one-pot meals on the stove!

www.bealtainecottage.comA small clothes-rail doubles as a drying rail as the heat from the wood burner keeps the place toasty!

www.bealtainecottage.comI am a fan of the Tiny Home movement for many reasons, but, primarily because this way of living empowers one…absolutely! www.bealtainecottage.comThe more one can conserve and live minimally, the more power one actually has !

www.bealtainecottage.comPlanting lots of shelter-giving plants, shrubs and trees around it also helps the micro-climate inside and out.

www.bealtainecottage.comA place to sew and knit in comfort with the luxury of a kettle of ever-free-boiling water is magic!

www.bealtainecottage.comA door that opens onto the most sheltered part of the garden is a bonus.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd yes…that is an old table top up-cycled as a step!

Where Do We Go From Here?

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Bealtaine After Samhain

As we approach the end of another year, reflection begins to take form.
As many of you know, I do not have a television and rarely tune into the radio, so, perhaps, I find myself with more time and silence to reflect and think.
www.bealtainecottage.com 003From the little I have experienced this year from the outside world, it appears that economics has been the driving force behind every problem on this tiny planet.
The mass destruction of our earthly home has been driven by economics… cost of living… better termed the cost of dying, for it is like inheritance tax.
The cost of living is an inheritance tax on the planet, forever diminishing what we inherited and scraping the bones of children as yet unborn.
www.bealtainecottage.com 001Fracking the land for gas has been justified by governments and hailed as cheap energy.
Can you tell me the last time your cost of energy fell?
From this little part of Ireland, I have witnessed the rise and rise of energy costs, whether it be gas, oil, coal or renewables…and I look out my kitchen window every day at mountains, covered by wind turbines.
The turbines multiply each year and the cost of electricity spirals out of control.www.bealtainecottage.com 003Why?

Economics…or, a better word, profit.

Nothing for the people who look at these incredible machines every day…nothing!

There is nothing in the present economic model that takes into account the real cost of anything that pays a profit to shareholders.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Take oil for example.

What is the real cost of extracting this energy source from Mother Earth?

The real cost of Nuclear Power is for future children of this Earth to pay for…there is no safe way of dealing with the waste!

Here I stop!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006It is not in my nature to be negative.

I cannot write or talk for long about any sense of helplessness we may feel, looking at the mess we have made.

As a woman, I am a pragmatist.

I was reared in poverty, so have an inbuilt ability to look at the possible.

The solutions are many-fold.

The most immediate solution is, quite simply, consume less.

www.bealtainecottage.com 009By consuming less, we become active participants in a quiet revolution against the status quo that appears to hold sway.

We are only a valued part of the economic model by being greedy consumers.

www.bealtainecottage.com 002We live in a state of scarcity, according to the economic model, for that brings the greatest profit for the economic model. However, as I have said before, we actually live in a world of abundance, if we could just stop and see the possible.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017The possibilities inherent in a simple life, where it is highly regarded to switch off lights, bake a loaf of bread, or cake, keep a few hens and grow basic vegetables…  Walk more, value good quality clothes, make shoes last by polishing them…all this and more makes you a member of society with power and not simply a faceless consumer.

Bench by entrance porchConsider what it is you want in the year that lies before us.

Visualize the world you want to live in.

Create a picture of a future for children as yet unborn…those we will never see, but can only imagine.

Imagine their world, for you are creating it.

www.bealtainecottage.com 013Is that power enough for you?