Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Growing vegetables with kids

A very happy green-fingered lady
We've been growing vegetables in our garden for 3 years now and I can't believe that this year is the first time we've tried something legume-ey (that's a scientific word, btw).

We've had plenty of success with potatoes for a couple of years but decided to give the soil a rest from those this year. A quick check in my self-sufficiency book has just proved that my ability to retain useless information is in fine form, as we've managed to plant the above sugar-snap peas in the spot that previously held potatoes.

I was hugely proud of myself for constructing a frame for the peas and NP has been delighted with her 'peapods'. We gave her a choice of seeds and she decided to grow sugar snaps because she loves them so much - she eats them raw. Every visitor to the house has been dragged outside to view them and as soon as she spotted me harvesting them she was right there yanking them off and whooping for joy.

I definitely think all kids should get a chance to grow veggies of some sort, even a tiny pot of salad would be great, watching things grow and taking care of them is a great conversation starter for learning about nature and sometimes even a good way to get them to eat vegetables. People always say that cooking with your kids makes them want to eat the food they've made; growing things is another step in that chain. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Education for Everyone

I decided to broaden my own mind and experiences by taking up a new hobby or two:

NP is loving her new toys and the crochet bag to keep them in. I'm currently working on a crochet brooch for her birthday and will probably get on with a few more practice pieces like these before I embark on a bigger project. 

There are some fab magazines out there which give you loads of stuff to get you started with knitting and crochet. I'm lucky in a way that I learnt the simple knit stitch and had a French knitting set as a child, giving me a good grounding to learn more complicated things now. It's a great alternative to time-wasting TV or laptop time (you know the kind I mean, where you're aimlessly filling time, rather than catching up on hugely important blogs and YouTube. Ahem.)

BTW, if anyone's got a Spongebob Squarepants pattern I'll be forever in your debt :)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Tiffany Aching

Want to know one of my weaknesses? Kick-ass strong women. I have a few favourite female fictional characters, but Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax should be right near the top of that list.

Pratchett books get devoured over here. I savour every last drop, give a big sigh, feel slightly bereft, then leave them for a few months. I recently finished re-reading 'I Shall Wear Midnight' then went on to populate my Kindle with far too many a few more Discworld favourites that I don't have in paperback. 

The Tiffany novels* could almost be textbook pieces of feminist-inspired 'empowered' female stories. Tiffany's coming-of-age seems to have come full circle in 'I Shall Wear Midnight', when she returns home to take up her Witchy role. Did I mention I LOVE Coming of Age Stories. About Women. Who Kick Ass?

I'm not entirely certain why I adore these kinds of stories. I think it's to do with the 'overcoming' aspect. Tiffany has to get over herself to develop. She makes a sh*t load of mistakes. She's selfish, she shows off, she makes a big f*cking mess then goes and cleans it up, taking responsibility for herself. Styling herself after Granny Weatherwax (I mean, who wouldn't?) 

What I was really taken by, both times I read this book, was the support of the other Witches. TIffany has two places she depends on for emotional support, her Dad and the Witches†. The interesting thing about the witches is that it's not exactly them who support her; they serve as a means for her to remember to rely on herself. They are so unwaveringly THERE, reminding her of who she is, making her determined to succeed; they are the ultimate role models, idols and friends.

Those are the kind of people everyone should have in their lives.

Anyone else have a favourite female character? What makes them special?

*(four in total, The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight)**
**You have to have footnotes if you're talking about Pratchett.
† Well, there's actually three I suppose. Her own Granny is the third, but I like to think of her more as Tiffany's inner strength, as Granny Aching passed away before the Wee Free Men, she's a bit of a totem for what Tiffany aspires to be, and is probably the reason why she likes Granny Weatherwax so much. Damn I could write so much about this!