Friday, September 25, 2009

Cleaning Up

Where has the week gone? I had planned to be well on my way through the cleaning up and sorting for our trash and treasure sale but somehow things have not gone to plan. I've sorted through our books and managed to get everything on to one bookshelf. There are now three boxes of books to go. I donated some of the almost new hard cover novels to the library. They were happy to receive them. The rest will be sold or given away.

There were books all around the house. Books in boxes, books on shelves, books beside beds. I was amazed how many books turned up when I really went looking for them. My daughter has two very full book shelves in her room, she gets the job of sorting through them. Our son has a more modest amount in his room. From now on we will be relying on the library more and buying less.

We also have boxes and boxes of books for work. We haven't even started on those. The new house we are moving to is less than half the size of this one so we need to be ruthless and get some stuff out of the house. I'm sure it will feel better when some of the clutter is gone but its not much fun sorting through it all.

I heard a decluttering expert on the radio last week. He says that if you get rid of the clutter from your home you will feel better, be healthier, more organized and happier. Wouldn't that be nice?!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

End of an Era

Yesterday I went with my daughter to parent - teacher interviews. There is nothing unusual in that, I've been twice a year for about 14 years. I've rarely missed an interview (there was that incident in primary school where I completely forgot, sorry Mrs Green). What was different about yesterday is it was my last lot of parent-teacher interviews for my children - ever. Our youngest is finishing secondary school this year, in a few short months actually. It is the end of an era.

It seems a little strange not to be doing the normal end of year stuff - paying next year's school fees, receiving a horrendously long book list, helping the kids choose subjects for next year. Its also nice to be moving on. A fresh start, something different. Next year both kids plan to attend university. There won't be any parent - teacher interviews.

It will be a new era for our family but one I'm looking forward to. The kids are growing up, making decisions for themselves, that's what is supposed to happen.

Its a beautiful day here, hopefully I'll be able to get out into the garden. I hope the weather smiles upon you today wherever you are.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I made gravy! From scratch! No Gravox packet in sight. And it tasted pretty good with no major lumps.

Pretty exciting - well it is for me at least. Although I cook most things from scratch for some reason gravy has eluded me.Its always been easier to grab the packet from the cupboard and mix up a batch of perfect looking gravy full of artificial colours and flavours. A few months ago I decided no more would I take the easy way out. I stopped buying gravy powder. We ran out. My last roast dinner was served up without gravy because I didn't have any gravy powder and didn't know how to make gravy. There were queries from the family "where is the gravy?"

This time I decided to give it a go. The roast lamb was cooked, time to make the gravy. I poured the pan juices into a small saucepan, that was easy. Heated the juices and added an equal amount of flour and stirred to a paste, then added stock and heated until it thickened. Done. Simple. It tasted pretty good but was a much lighter colour than packet gravy.

Another thing I should have done years ago. It wasn't any harder than packet gravy. The steps are pretty much the same except you add gravy powder instead of pan dripping and flour. I'm sure its better for you. Yes, it contains fat from the pan but you don't eat that much of it and there are no artificial ingredients.

From now on we are having real gravy not packet stuff. Next step is to learn to make mayonaise. When the stuff in the fridge and cupboard is used up I won't buy any more. I'll have to learn to make it or do without.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cleaning up and books

The clean up has begun. Our daughter has announced that she would rather move at the end of this year rather than next, this is 12 months ahead of our schedule. All of our carefully laid plans are in disarray. We've decided to start preparations and see how we go. I admit the excitement of the move is catching and we are all looking forward to it.

We've been decluttering a bit half heartedly before but now things are a bit more urgent. We will clean up in two stages. Stage One is to get rid of junk and make this home we are living in now neater and tidier ready for sale. Our new home is half the size of this one so Stage Two will be to sell/give away/rehome any furniture we will not be taking with us. Stage Two will be done after the sale of this home.

I have a large pile of almost new, hardcover novels sitting by the door ready to be donated to our local library. I'll take them today. We need to clean up the very untidy bookshelf and get rid of the stacks of books on the floor. And the boxes of books in my wardrobe. That's my challenge for this week.

We will keep our favourites and a good selection of my gardening and craft books but a lot will go. From now on we will be borrowing books from the library rather than purchasing them. Its cheaper and you don't end up with piles of books all over the floor!

The rather messy bookshelf before the clean up


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Rain

We woke to the sound of rain again today. Its great to see the garden wet. I feel like we haven't accomplished much in the garden but we keep on plugging away at it. Everything is a bit of a mess at the moment. We have had some storm damage so there are tree branches down in various spots and we've had to prune some branches back as they have been damaged when a large branch has fallen. There are prunings from the front hedge in big piles. It all looks a bit of a mess.

When we get a day of fine weather we will clear it up. Actually it will take a bit more than just one day. Anything big enough to be used as firewood will be cut up and stacked and the rest burnt. The piles of blackberry I have been creating will also be burnt. The summer fire season is fast approaching so cleaning up around the house is vital.

This is Amber, one of my garden 'helpers'. She loves the newly mulched garden beds. They must be nice and comfy. She has a knack of sitting right on top of my newly planted plants. I'm slowly getting around to weeding and mulching all the garden beds. It looks so much nicer when they are finished. Hopefully the mulch will keep the weeds down and hold in the moisture so the plants survive the summer. We are on tank water so the garden has to survive on the rain fall and the very occasional bucket of washing machine water.

The irises are flowering. These are as tough as old boots. They grow in sun or shade, need little water and flower for ages. What more could you ask for? I'm planning on taking some of these with me when we move.

It must be spring - the daffodils are flowering. These cheery yellow flowers are growing under the fruit trees. It always feels like the warm weather is just around the corner when the daffs start to flower.

The fruit trees are starting to blossom. This is from my favourite peach tree. It was grown from a seedling and bears masses of fruit every year. The birds and possoms love it too so its a race to see who gets the most fruit. We usually net at least part of the tree as the birds are not that good at sharing.