I think one of the events we shall enjoy not repeating when we buy a home of our own will be quarterly house inspections by the estate agents who manage this property.
Though I do believe it's an important service on behalf of the owners to check and see that their investment house is being looked after and maintained, it sorely wears on me to have people coming through taking photos four times a year. Perhaps it's the introvert in me, my need for privacy and a sense of security within these walls? Whatever, I shall be gleeful when we turn the key in our very own front door and know that none shall pass it's threshold without an invitation to do so.
This morning's rental inspection was a bit harder than usual due to these past three weeks of ill health and the subsequent housework, which is normally up to date, lagging behind. Still, between us, Mr E and I were able to catch up yesterday afternoon and it was a nice feeling to have things put away, garden tended, floors sparkling and life back 'as it should be'.
It's his final week of a fortnight's school holiday break so we're taking life slow before term 3 begins and the work pace picks up again. One of the things we had both noticed recently was the dwindling grocery bill, and not just because we had barely an appetite during the flu and pneumonia weeks.
Even when our hunger returned it was for very simple fare and not a lot of it. Soup and toasted sandwiches have hit the number one spot as my husband's nightly dinner request, and a hearty beef stew I made in the slow cooker last week has been served twice with mashed potato and greens, and will become meat pies further into this week. With all the bits and pieces that stew has cost a grand total of $5 per double serve. No wonder the grocery bill is reducing.
Scones make an appearance some days for lunch and then carry over the next day as breakfast. Normally I make them with buttermilk but having not been to the supermarket lately I soured the last of the milk with lemon juice instead and the scones tasted just as good.
Knowing the lease shall be up at this house in about ten weeks and we will need to leave, a slow progression through the pantry and freezer to use what we have is underway. I don't like taking a lot of food with us when moving house so those last weeks always require a bit of extra creativity to pair ingredients which had previously not had the pleasure of an introduction, and of course there's quite a bit of baking happening to empty the flour barrels.
Blossom will be moving in four or five weeks too and I think her plan is the same as mine.
Actually, I think a good pantry, fridge and freezer empty-out every so often is good sense as not many foodstuffs have an indefinite shelf or freezer life and it's very easy to forget what you have when your pantry cupboard is deep and dark (like mine).
Bob and Sophie spend much of the day lazing in the sun by the dining room window, or out on the deck in their beds lazing in the sun, or snuggled close to Mr E and I during a late afternoon nap.
I've been re-reading A Year of Slow Food (now out of print) each night before bed. It's broken up into a year of week by week chapters written in conversational manner about daily life growing food, tending to animals, and cooking your own produce on a small farmlet. It's been years since I first read it and remember at the time I could not put the book down.
This time however, I'm savouring the journey, researching further about beekeeping, honey, greenhouses, crop rotations, cheese making, cows and chickens. I sincerely doubt we shall ever take on the kind of commitment the authors did, but it's in our mind to become partially self sufficient should we find a home with enough garden space for raised vegetable beds, fruit trees and chickens.
One house in particular tugged on our heartstrings the other day when we attended the open viewing.
It's old, loads of character, a wonderful cook's kitchen and pantry, plenty of shade and garden, in a quiet leafy green area...but it has an asbestos roof. This is a big red flag for my husband and would require removal by certified professionals at some stage and a new roof installed, probably costing around twenty thousand dollars which we'd need to save for.
I doubt we'll follow through with this one, but my oh my, we certainly do know what we want now.
The rain a week ago has given the bottle brush down by the side of my sewing room a rare burst of winter colour, but it wasn't enough to stir the frangipani into bloom.
Still, the bottle brush has attracted birds and as I potter in my sewing room around dawn each morning, sipping a fresh cup of coffee, their song is joyful and welcoming.
One of my new designs was created with welcome in mind.
A welcome for a new home actually.
As I do not know the colour scheme our new house will have, stitching with a fairly neutral palette seemed wise and I'm so glad I chose these colours because they really have a soothing, calming appearance...just what is needed when you enter a home for the first time, yes?
The cream frame has a lovely weathered appearance and the variegated green spot fabric was perfect to border the design without closing it in. No idea why I stitched 476 as the house number but I'm sure it has no relevance whatsoever to the number we shall have eventually. Perhaps I will scour the Bible and see if there is a good 4:76 or 47:6 verse to compliment my 'welcome' embroidery.
Did you notice the key? More importantly did you notice the key fob? It may look like just a piece of lace to you but to me it is a treasure from the past. When Blossom was just 12 years old she learned to do bobbin lace and this was the first practice piece she made. Now you know why I hold it dear to my heart and why it shall hang with a key over the framed design.
This slow time, this season of recuperation, is still teaching me, drawing my thoughts deeper so that I find myself examining experiences, motivations, purposes and the things that need to go.
One such change this past week has been acquainting myself with the 'unsubscribe' button found at the very bottom of numerous emails and newsletters I have subscribed to over the years.
Have you found yourself offering your email address in order to obtain a free recipe book, free patterns, preview viewings of documentaries, special offers from shops and businesses. etc etc?
In fact I realised after being off the computer for a few days during the worst of the pneumonia that my inbox flooded over with emails which I subsequently deleted one by one as I had no interest in what they were selling or offering.
Emails flowing over can be wearying enough to clear when they are valid and pertaining to my own family, business, blog and friendships, but add to them even more which have no bearing at all on life or distract me with purchase temptations and there's an extra mental weight bearing down that should not be there.
Every morning these past eight or nine days I go through each email not associated with family, friends, blog or work, block the few obvious spam emails which always trickle through, and unsubscribe from everything else. Now I no longer groan when opening Outlook on my laptop and after initially unsubscribing from about 15-20 per day, this morning there was only one.
Aah, the satisfaction, and the removal of temptations (craft shops, book shops...)
You know, there is a deep knowing in my heart that God has been using this time of rest and recovery to address many hidden issues in my life, to draw my eyes upon them and consider each one carefully. Some have surprised me, causing me to declare out loud "How did I not see that before?", and yet others, which I'd previously chosen to ignore and sweep under the carpet for another time, were like neon lights that would not quit until they were dealt with.
Attitudes and habits have risen up to greet me head on, a tsunami of emotions following closely behind, and to be honest if I'd been given the choice I'd not have opened the door to them, but God knew what was needed, He allowed me to be laid low in order to raise me out of the pit I'd dug for myself. Such love. Such deep abiding love. Exactly what I'd wanted to do as a parent for the betterment of my own children, yet was often too fearful to follow through with.
I feel quite blessed today, lightened of many loads and with fresh clarity of purpose and hope, and so very grateful for the faithful prayers of daughter Blossom, my beloved husband, and dear friends like Allie, Annabel and Margaret. Never underestimate prayers.
May your week be rich in kindness, slow in pace, overflowing with goodness and generous in love.