Monday, November 26, 2018

Packing up and picnics

This is the week that the kitchen renovation will begin, so this is the week we are packing up the kitchen for a several weeks! This is exciting and a bit terrifying, and quite a lot of work. Dh and I have been packing boxes for days now.

On Thursday some burly guys will be here to dismantle the kitchen completely and make a new bigger window. Then the other things happen slowly...for weeks...until (hopefully, with the wind in the right quarter) we have a sparkly new all electric kitchen by the 18th December. Here are some graphic mock-ups of where we are heading.

You can see the new window on the left. A looong looong bench under it.

The stove will be in a new position. There will be a combi microwave under the bench as well as the oven on the other wall.

We want to be able to manage as best we can making simple breakfasts and lunches, at least, while the work goes on. Eating all our meals out would be costly, and we don't like going out to breakfast anyway! We know that there will be days when getting some home delivered food, or going out for a meal will be necessary for our sanity, and that will be fine, but it would be good to keep them to a minimum if we can: we are used to home cooked food, with minimal fats, sugars and refined additives.

I made a list of the equipment I thought we could stash in the rest of the house -things like the kettle, my rice cooker and slow cooker, and sandwich maker.  There is a microwave which fits in the laundry at present. A small box of spoons, sharp knives and can openers has been saved from the packing up. We should be able to make do with sandwiches and cereals and noodles and salad, so long as the teas and coffees are still available.

I have a small fridge in DH's study -which will house some milk and cheese, salads, boiled eggs and cooked meats. We will have a bowl for washing up on a picnic table on the patio -which will only be accessible when the workers go home, for at least the first few days.  As we are putting in a new window which looks out on to the patio area, the patio will be a work area at first.

Hopefully by the end of the first week, we will have the patio available to us once again, and that should see us through the rest of the work.

We will paint the ceiling and walls ourselves at the beginning of the third week.

Exciting times ahead.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A pep talk to myself

Sometimes I am a bit overwhelmed.  In my quest for a simple life, sometimes I still battle with my expectations and everything feels like there is too much to do.  This is pretty silly, because in this kind of life -doing things myself, cooking from scratch, making things rather than buying them -nothing will be perfect, not enough things finished.

This week the patio desperately needed cleaning and the spiders need to be evicted -again. There are weeds in the brick paving. There is mulch in the trailer, not yet spread. I need to find a shady spot for some pots -and they are cluttering up the patio. I have stuff to take to the op shop, and they are currently cluttering up the lounge room.

This morning I had a good hour or more working in the garden, which was great. When I noticed that my sense of being overwhelmed was taking over my joy at being able to work in my garden on a lovely sunny morning, I knew it was time to take myself in hand, and start looking with positive eyes again. Plenty of people would LOVE to have my life -and my 'problems'. In order to have a pep talk to myself I am writing, not about what is not yet done, but what has been achieved this week.

1. Cabinet Swap. 

 This cabinet used to be in the kitchen, storing spices and other dry goods. Now we are renovating the kitchen , it needed to move. I spent almost a whole day making space for it in my sewing room, and moving an old IKEA billy bookcase into the kitchen as temporary storage for those things.

The cabinet looks great in the sewing room, and has made everything much tidier. 

2. The Strelitzia has gone -  to good homes.

We got a landscaper to come in and dig up a huge strelitzia which was in the wrong place in the garden. I was scared that our grand-children would be spiked by the hard pointy leaves, and I was tired of having to squeeze past it when I wanted to fill the bird bath.

I gave the clumps of the plant away on our local Buy Nothing Facebook page. It has been well received by four neighbouring gardeners. 

3. Peace Conference 

DH and I had a wonderful time attending a Peace Conference all weekend. It was a positive way to commemorate the signing of the Armistice -with a group of like-minded people who are working hard to ensure not just that we remember the soldiers who died, but also we learn to make peace so that there might be NO more war!With this in mind, I refer you to a movement which is dedicated to ensuring that 'we must never again allow the circumstances to exist in which one man has the capacity to commit sending Australia to war". (Quotation from former PM Malcolm Fraser). I remember the huge number of people who rallied in Perth and other Australian cities to say we did not want to go to war in Iraq, but the Prime Minister committed our troops to war anyway.

The movement seeks reform of the War Powers Act under which the executive government can commit troops to international conflict without bringing the matter before the parliament. Find out more at 

4. A book cull and other decluttering

In preparation for my new kitchen, I decluttered some cook books. This one was not being given the use it deserved, so I found it a new home with a family with young children who are already eagerly experimenting with growing their own food. I think Stephanie would approve! 

I took some other things to the Op shop and had a delightful return trip with these very pretty Kosta Boda snowball tealight candles. 

5. Cleaning happened 

DD helped me to make up a Spider Go Away spray of lavender oil, dishwashing soap and water -which I used to help the spiders make up their minds that the garden is a better place to live than my patio. Apparently Peppermint oil is better, though eucalyptus and citrus is also good. 

I washed the outdoor furniture cushions, just in case the spiders were hiding there too, and cleaned the place up nicely. DH cleaned the house. 

6. Sewing  blocks

I have almost finished making the 66 blocks for my Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt (free pattern from Bonnie Hunter here ). I am also working on a WAQA community quilt project for CanTeen, using their bandanas as the base. 

7. Choir practice

We are only a few week's away from our Christmas concert, singing Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. DH and I are hard at work practicing our parts. We will be performing at St Barnabas's Anglican Church Leederville on December 8th at 7:30pm. 

There, that feels better! So much achieved, so much life to celebrate -and I haven't mentioned having dinner on a warm evening in a restaurant in South Perth, overlooking the city and the river, with a dear friend who was visiting from Melbourne. I haven't mentioned the meals made, the articles written, the books read....

I hope that my list of achievements will inspire you to look again at how you are going -and celebrate the good things. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lots to do

Firstly, thank you to those who have been leaving comments on my blog: I hadn't realised that Blogger had a new way of handling them and only just found comments going back months! It is nice to make contact with each other this way. 

There seems to be a lot going on here just now. We have signed the contract for the renovation of the kitchen, and have a rough start date. Our choices have been made for appliances, and pretty soon we will need to pack things up and make way for the builders who think they will start in the first week in December. Now that this is becoming a reality, it can't happen soon enough -the layout of our present kitchen is not ideal. We often cook together, DH and I when we have guests, and yesterday we were in each other's way a bit. Our new kitchen will have more work surfaces and more storage. 

Nevertheless I was chuffed with the way this butterscotch apple and blueberry pie turned out yesterday. We had friends over for dinner, and it was great for desert. The recipe is in Nigella Lawson's classic cookbook "How to Eat". I added 30g of icing sugar to the base, and Nigella suggested, and it made a lovely flan base even though it was hard to keep it intact when rolling it out. 

Our  mantle is decorated with a new cornucopia vase (right) , which I found in a second hand shop. It is from the same factory as another I already had, so they make a nice pair. In fact, the fact that I now have a pair makes the first one (left)  more attractive I think. I have filled them with olive leaves and silk roses. 

I am busy making blocks to add to the pile needed for my queen size version of Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Mountain Majesties above, using beautiful fabrics mostly bought in the Blue Mountains when we visited last year. I have to make 66 and have got about 42 done. Getting there! 

Spring is warming up nicely, and my grapevine pergola/ natural air conditioner is filling out nicely this year. This is on the north side of our house. 

We were able to get out to a beach walk recently on a lovely morning, and on another day went for a walk around a park. The busy season for the garden is mostly over: we have switched the reticulation on, so there is a lot less to do.  I have lots of lettuce and rainbow chard at the moment 

   I found a new to me Local Quilting Shop nearby and was pleased to make the acquaintance of the staff, and to find that they have every single Kona cotton colour on display! I love Kona cottons and I am sure I will be back to add to my collection. 

This sewing machine was on the counter - nearly 100 years old -one of the shuttle bobbin ones -and amazingly intact and in good condition. 

Our choir is working hard on Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols -the music is amazing! Christmas will be upon us before we know it -and I had better get some organising done! Have you got plans yet?