Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Seaweed Makes Me Happy

Yesterday I made myself very happy by renovating all my plant pots. I have two hanging baskets and five large pots that I call my 'mini farm'. I am not allowing myself any more until I can keep these ones alive and green over several successive seasons. It is absolutely the wrong season to plant seeds, but the poor pots have been neglected since the summer veg came out, and I needed some green to lift my spirits during the long winter. So I cheated and bought seedlings. Lettuce for salads, parsley for everything, tuscan kale for the secret ingredient in minestrone. Then I dug up silverbeet seedlings from the garden to save them from slugs and popped them in the pots too. A wonderful sunny autumn afternoon in gardening gloves with a bag of potting mix and a trowel. Heavenly. I think I will plant snow pea seeds anyway. Maybe the pots will be warm enough to encourage them to sprout. I have discovered that veg will keep growing throughout our winter with a fortnightly feed of seaweed concentrate and fish emulsion. You know you are a true gardener (or maybe just a slightly scary one) when the smell of liquid seaweed is all it takes to make you happy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pumpkin and Chocolate

Still eating the Mother's Day chocs. Not only did the Domestic Goddess make the chocolates, she also made the box, because she is the Origami Queen as well. I am grateful to be so loved.
Today I have the most fun and useful kitchen hint ever, passed on by the very clever and thrifty ladies on this forum. To reduce a whole pumpkin to manageable, chop-up-easily-for-soup size pieces, tie it up in a plastic bag and hurl it with force onto the nearest concrete surface. I did this on the pavers in our back courtyard yesterday, and it was so much fun. Usually, cutting up pumpkin is my least favourite dinner time job, and I'm always afraid I'll lose a finger, but this was hugely entertaining and very stress-relieving. Try it. You'll love it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day

One of the excellent traditions of my life is the late afternoon Mother's Day nap that I am required to take while the rest of the family run about cooking dinner for me. I am one well-cared for mother. So there I was, reclining in state, regarding my huge, overstuffed bookshelf. The Man built me this matching pair of six foot high bookshelves many years ago to rescue my precious book collection from its precarious plank and brick existence. Now, I have already decluttered this bookshelf but as I have discovered, getting rid of things is addictive, and there is nothing quite like the high of seeing bags of former possessions leave the house. I could see the books quivering in their little metaphorical shoes as they wondered who was going to survive elimination. So I abandoned napping and ruthlessly pruned four more bags of books out of my life.

What went:

Self Delusional Books: When exactly do I imagine I am going to Teach Myself Latin?

Books Only Relevant in a Past Life: I loved studying Anglo-Saxon poetry. Twenty years ago. I must face the fact that if I want to read Anglo-Saxon poetry in the future I am going to have to invest in an English translation. Also I will likely never reread Greek plays or the lesser known poetry of Chaucer.

Classics in Horrible Cheap Editions: When I am rich I will join The Folio Society and fill my bookshelf with beautiful classic editions. Until then I will go to the library.

Books I Inherited From My Grandmother That I will Never Read: My Granny would be the first to tell me to get rid of them. The remaining few that I love and treasure will preserve her memory as much as the twenty I will never look at.

What stayed:

'How To' Books Which Are Moderately Less Self Delusional: I am going to learn to make cheese. One day. Really.

Comfort Reading: The books I turn to when I am tired, overwhelmed, in need of something completely undemanding that I have read before a hundred times. Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer.

Books That Make Me Happy: Poetry. Anything with pictures of wonderful gardens.

Books That Make Me a Better Person: Anything by Elizabeth Goudge.

Books I Inherited From My Grandmother That I Also Like

Books That Belong to The Man: Spouse etiquette demands not decluttering the precious clutter of The Other.

So Mother's Day. All good. Possessions pruned, dinner on the table. And space on the bookshelf....

Friday, May 7, 2010

...And Here Is the News

Well, who knew? Twenty seven does go into twenty. The secret is in the garbage bags, the ones now reposing in the wheelie bin. Late night and early morning culling without the children was wonderfully recreational, then we tipped the contents of the rest of the drawers all over the living room floor, and the girls and I sorted and stacked with the aid of ziploc bags and a permanent marker. The only craft the girls regularly do now is cardmaking, hand sewing, knitting and beading, so I threw out everything else, and kept a tiny minimum of basics. Sewing kit, knitting needles, beads in the bead box, and all their card making bits in separate bags. Once we had an entire craft room, now four drawers, and two boxes of wool and fabric in the shed. I am such a happy woman. Each girl has their own drawer with current projects in. My drawer has the art materials that I don't want Posy to find - the charcoal, pastels and the blu-tack. Oh, the blu-tack. She eats it and sticks it in her hair. Oh, there are more art materials - we have one box of paints high up in the kitchen, a shelf of art paper, and a shelf of pencils and crayons. But that really is all. Not quite minimalism, but for us, the bowerbird family, a real step in that direction.

So that was the news. I know, if life was any more exciting...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Goodbye Craft Clutter

After a lull of two months the renovations are going to begin creeping upstairs, without, it has to be said, having magically transformed downstairs into anything remotely resembling living space. There is some arcane building reason why this is so. It is not entirely clear to me. What is clear to me is that soon we will also be without a living room, which means our family of six will be living in three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, laundry and hallway. The hallway is where we will be storing everything from the living room. At the moment there is only room to walk down the hall one at a time, so downsizing even more is clearly in order. Our home office is my great uncle's old oak desk in the corner of the living room, with the family computer on top. It has seven drawers. In the hallway are two sets of old wooden factory drawers that house all the craft supplies. Twenty small drawers. The contents of the home office desk need to be transferred into the craft drawers. The craft supplies cannot be transferred anywhere else. If this sounds like one of those brain teaser puzzles, it is because it really is. I have not cleared out the craft drawers in years because it is really scary in there. Anytime anyone wants anything they rummage around in every single drawer to find it (or not) then shove things back wherever there is a tiny gap (or not). My hope was that the fairies would sort it, but to date, they have not. Bad fairies. Update tomorrow.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cruel Ironies and Happy Accidents

My family feel it is a cruel irony that the turnips self-seed so prolifically in the vegie garden, as opposed to, say, rockmelons. I have discovered that my turnip-hating tribe cannot detect the loathsome vegetable when mixed with mashed potato (cook and mash them separately, as turnips take longer), and hidden under a stew, or cut in small pieces in a curry, as long as there are identical pieces of potato to throw them off the scent...

Another garden surprise - the little girls endlessly plant 'gardens' in the sandpit with bits pulled out of the flower and vegie garden. Imagine their delight and joy when they discovered a flourishing patch of bean plants growing last week from some long vanished sandpit feast. Shades of Jack and the Beanstalk. That would explain why I haven't seen the cow around recently...