How did you go with your tasks last week? I'm sure some of you already had lovely clean kitchen drawers but I must admit some of mine were in need of a jolly good de-clutter, scrub and some thoughtful re-organisation.
It's usually every twelve months or so that I begin the rotation of 'deep' cleaning various areas of our home and I find that the kitchen is my favourite place to begin because it's the most-used room in the home and with so many drawers and cupboards it's also a collection magnet for stuff I'm not sure whether to keep, donate or throw away. Fortunately with every year that passes there's less of that kind of stuff to collect because we're always looking to simplify, but some still manages to find it's way into what should be purposeful places within the kitchen and the end result is not pleasing to my eye.
This last week was very full with family and health and work and a broken refrigerator so it was only yesterday that I was finally able to slow down and apply a few hours to cleaning out four drawers. Fortunately, once I got going my cleaning extended to the storage container shelf and a restocking of the new refrigerator we bought on Saturday.
My drawers are large and deep in the kitchen, which I love. When I think back to Nana's kitchen there was a small half-hutch with three tiny drawers across the top and two open shelves along the bottom hidden by a short floral curtain she'd made.
These are my four drawers completed...
It gets easier each year to 'let go' of the excess and keep that which we use regularly along with a spare, but when it comes to mixing bowls I keep a good amount because I use multiples each day - though I have become mindful of keeping the better quality ones, and I do rather like bowls with a spouted lip for pouring batter into cake pans or egg-y mixes into pie plates.
My storage container shelf was dreadful, things everywhere and difficult to find two parts for one container when I need it. This was another area where I was able to discard what isn't needed and keep only that which is used regularly.
I like to prepare food ahead for the week so having enough containers to fill with grated carrot, corn kernels, chopped melons, various pickled vegetables, fruits, vegetable salads, baked goods and dressings etc is very important. I recently bought some new containers for specific purposes and this helps enormously with my enthusiasm for weekly meal preps each Sunday or Monday.
Of course the biggest barrier to my meal prep this weekend was the fridge dying late on Friday. Still under (extended) warranty it's not a brand with parts easily available so it will be around 6-8 weeks before we get a working fridge again. Living in the very hot tropics mid-summer means you simply must have reliable refrigeration to keep food from going off, which it can do when left on the kitchen bench in one night.
On Saturday after discussing this news my husband decided we'd go ahead and buy a new fridge, a larger one, and so we did. He hired a large trailer and brought it home that day.
We have a very small spare fridge out back that has been struggling and was in need of repair (everything in it freezes or melts depending on the day) so I was able to save some of our cold items for 24 hours (praise God it only froze the melons) until the new refrigerator was cold and the freezer chilled. Phew!
This morning I did a grocery shop and all is well again. The larger fridge is way better than the one which chose to quit on Friday and will suit this vegan lifestyle because we load up on fruit and vegetables and nuts every few days. The freezer section holds all our nuts, seeds, frozen berries and veg, plus ice for smoothies.
Once the old fridge (old as in four years, sigh...things are not made to last) is repaired in 6-8 weeks it will replace the 'truly old' fridge out back as that's where all our cold drinks, juices, kombucha, animal food, potatoes and onions are kept.
Yesterday afternoon I finally got around to baking that Apple Bread recipe again (which I mentioned last Friday) and what I like about a second bake is that you get to tweak it. Though I liked the first one I made, there was just a couple of things I wanted to do differently.
As you can see it's loaded with yummy apple pieces, but I must warn you it's not sweet. A few people commented to me that the Black Bean Brownies recipe I shared last Monday wasn't sweet enough for them and that next time they'll add a bit of sugar or rice malt syrup, but hubby and I find it sweet enough because we rarely eat sugar these days and served with berries and coconut yoghurt it's quite delicious.
So here's the recipe for Apple Bread which I've tweaked from the original at ifoodreal.com
If you want it sweeter increase the maple syrup to 1 cup.
4 cups of chopped un-peeled apples
2 large eggs or 3 small
1 cup of pureed stewed apples or grated zucchini
½ cup maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp vanilla powder (or extract)
2 teaspoons mixed spice (or combine cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plain spelt flour
1 ¼ cups plain white flour
Preheat oven to 180C (350F)
Line a 5” x 9” loaf pan with baking paper
Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl. Add everything except the flours and apples. Whisk together.
Fold through the flour and the apples until just combined.
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out.
Optional: throw in a cup of raisins or dried cranberries with the apples and sprinkle flaked almonds over the top before baking.
Do you ever buy a piece of fabric for a particular purpose?
Have you discovered years later that same piece of fabric languishing in your stash and still not made into the project you'd planned for it?
Once the kitchen was cleaned and the apple bread baked Mr E trotted off to the shed to work on his dirt racer (go-kart) and I was free to play in the sewing room. I did have a certain project in mind but I couldn't get my eyes off this lovely linen bird fabric which I think is about five years old, maybe six.
When I saw it at Spotlight all those years ago my idea was to make a simple tote bag because I use them a lot and find totes to be incredibly useful when you only need to carry a purse, sunglasses, keys and phone - which is all I take when we go to garage sales or markets.
So I postponed my original sewing plan and in an hour had myself a new and pretty linen tote ready for next weekend's bargain hunting.
It has nice long handles and I've boxed the base so things sit nicely inside...
Some red buttons below the base of the handles...
...and inside the lining is made from an old Tilda print which compliments the bird fabric beautifully.
You may be wondering what project I postponed yesterday? Well, it has to do with a new bag of pegs my dear husband bought me...
It's so incredibly hot here almost all year that pegs tend to dry out in the insane heat, crack and break.
There was a time when I'd remove the pegs when I brought the washing inside but then I decided it was easier to leave them on the line. Downside is that they will indeed dry out, crack and break over time.
My intention yesterday was to make a peg apron with a decent sized front pocket where I could simply keep my outdoor pegs when not in use, and they'd be right within reach when I was hanging up the washing next day. This was what Nana had and funnily enough one of the very first designs I had published in a magazine (2010) was a peg apron!
My style and skill has changed so much in ten years but I still love this pattern because it was created with Nana in mind.
Hopefully in another week a new version will be ready to show you and I won't have so many broken pegs in future.
It's been a while since I visited the local library, something I used to do a lot before last year's floods. So many things changed after that and I'm not sure why, but the daily rhythm of life took a different turn and I simply followed along.
But recently I was pondering our eleven years of homeschooling and the books we read together as a family, the memories made, and the ones Blossom and I will still talk about...like the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. You know, there is so much written within those wonderful books about homemaking, family, faith, cooking, sewing, preparedness and walking through adversity.
And that's what prompted my visit to the library.
I intend to read them again.
I used to read loads of historical fiction to the kids, many of the books hundreds of years old (we certainly expanded our vocabulary!), but once homeschool was over and my own life veered off into the path of embroidery designs, I was never interested in reading any sort of fiction again. I tried and have successfully read four books in the last ten years, though each of them was based on medical facts about certain brain injuries, but honestly, the urge to read fiction is not in me these days.
The Little House books are based on Laura's own life, her own stories, her memories so dear of her mother, father, siblings, husband; the highs and lows of a prairie life, motherhood, loss, joy, relationships and making do with very little. Reading through each one our whole family were enthralled - we even took audio books of them on holidays.
And this is why I'm starting over with them; because there's much to learn and ponder and be grateful for as each book closes and another begins. I'm not embarrassed to sit in the doctor's and read them whilst waiting for my appointment or a test. Quite the opposite! If anyone asks I get to share the wonderful experiences our children had when as a family we gathered around and settled in for hours to draw mental images of Laura's conversation as she wrote about her life.
So that is where life is at for us at the moment. Quietly and thoughtfully pottering along, doing what needs doing, picking up that which inspired in the past, embracing the day as it dawns and giving thanks for simple things, the love we have for each other and the love our Lord Jesus has for us.
I had my heart ultrasound last Thursday but won't get results for a few days yet, and then it's off to the hospital on Friday for the cardiac stress test.
I am feeling wonderfully healthy at the moment, in fact with more energy than I've had in months and no migraines. If you've been praying, THANK YOU. I'll be sure to let you know what these tests reveal when I've got something concrete.
Now I must be away to begin dinner and soak some buckwheat kernels for dehydrating later in the week so I can begin again the old habit of making our own granola.
WEEK 2 TASK: Your task this week, should you want to accept it, is to finish cleaning out your remaining kitchen drawers and organise your storage containers.
May the favour of the Lord be upon you, and may His generous love spill over in your life with such abundance that you simply must share it.