Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The joy of line drying

Photo of sheets and pillowcases on a laundry line in a garden
Typical sunny day in the garden
On days like today (and for the past week and a half), drying my laundry on the line is such a pleasure.  I love to go out with the basket in the morning and peg it to the line.  It takes me about 8-10 minutes to get it out of the washing machine and onto the line out back--not a huge time commitment, though slower than shoving it in the dryer.

But hanging it out, smelling the fresh air, listening to the birds and seeing the greenery and flowers all around is just lovely.  It's a relaxing task and I truly enjoy it.

Taking it off the line in the afternoon isn't always as fun, however;  I have to fold it and put it away (though I leave Franklin's and Partner's clothing in piles for them to take upstairs themselves).  I try to fold each piece as I take it off the line, and place it into its designated pile in the basket:  all towels together, etc.  I prefer to fold it right there, although if I'm in a hurry--like when it's starting to rain--I'll toss it in the basket quickly and fold (or rehang on the airing rack if still wet) indoors.

On school days I'll generally put a wash on when I get up in the morning (around 8 am), but otherwise I'll put my wash on the night before;  the regular wash cycle of my front loader is around 90 minutes and I prefer to sleep in an hour extra--I don't want to wait around for the wash to finish until 10.30 or later on these days.  I can just get up and hang it on the line.

And when I change the sheets, putting the new line-dried ones on, they smell and feel so fresh and clean--no comparison with machine dried bedding.  I just love it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our very first egg hunt, 2017

Photo of green and orange eggs in a little rustic willow basket
Our own Easter eggs--I wove the basket from my own willow
For two weeks before Easter, we saved an egg every day from our white Leghorn hen--she's the only one who lays white eggs from our flock, and as the shops around here only sell brown eggs, we're lucky to have her!  We were determined to dye them and have an egg hunt in the garden, so we planned ahead.

Our first attempt at dyeing failed, because of the lack of actual food coloring at any local stores (Partner went looking for it and came back with "natural colouring" which did not work whatsoever).  Luckily for our second try, I had some leftover packets of Kool-aid which my mother sent me for dyeing yarn (works great on wool and animal fibers).  I only had orange and green left, but that was just fine by us.  Maybe I'll ask her to send me some red, blue, and yellow for next Easter.

Anyway, the Kool-aid dyed the hardboiled eggs brilliantly--just add boiling water--and we invited some friends over for lunch and egg hunting a few days before Easter.  They have a little girl just younger than Franklin and though it was a gray day, the two of them enjoyed both finding the eggs and hiding them for each other.
Photo of a little boy in a garden, holding up a dyed Easter egg with a huge smile
I found it!
Did I mention Franklin broke his arm that week, too?  His cast is under his hoodie in the picture;  luckily the arm's healing nicely and he should have the cast off in another week's time.  He was playing at the park with friends and fell off something that spins.  He's been quite proud of his cast and the story behind it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Life in March

Photo of three chickens pecking a pile of grass clippings
Plucky, Tiny and Star, enjoying fresh grass clippings
We made it through the winter without losing a single chicken.  We ate Lavender the cockerel in November, clearly still in autumn.  We have a couple of old ladies in the flock, but they're still happy and interested, though Plucky at about 4.5 years old is noticeably slower than the rest.  However, she went through a big molt late last year and has a full set of soft new feathers, so we assume she'll be with us a bit longer.

Franklin had his seventh birthday this week.  He helped make his chocolate cake (we made our favorite brownie recipe, actually), and also picked out a cake from the shop to take to school.  I'm not prepared to organize another birthday party for him (once was enough for me!), but the three of us are going to Manchester Legoland Discovery Centre at the weekend for his special birthday treat.  Manchester is about a 60-90 minute drive from us, but it should be a fun day and luckily Partner's doing the driving.

I work in a school kitchen now instead of the hotel restaurant.  Most of the local schools are run by the same catering company, and over the course of the last year and a half I've worked at most of them!  But I got a permanent contract at a school a few villages away starting last September.  I've really enjoyed this little school and have got to know many of the children there at lunchtime.  However, the company has lost some staff recently so there has been a reshuffle and I'm temporarily working at the local village school where Franklin attends.  I've been told it's until more staff are recruited, but I suspect I may be there for the rest of the school year (July).  It's nice to be able to walk to there, though it's a bit harder work seeing as they cater to more than twice as many kids as my old school.  Still, I'm enjoying it while it lasts, and it's nice to get a wave and a smile from Franklin during lunchtime.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Spring cleaning

Oh it's been a while!  It's not that nothing's going on, though:  just been living life.

I hibernated for a few months this winter, from November till about mid January.  I hardly went out into the garden, even.  I've been busily pursuing my indoor crafts, including hand quilting another quilt (log cabin--much simpler than my last applique quilt).  I really want to make another rag rug, but am saving it till my quilt is finished.  Maybe in spring.

I've re-listened to Marie Kondo's book, and am going to restart her method.  Last year I went through my clothes, books, and papers;  I'm ready to move onto the next category, miscellaneous.  It's the biggest category, and seemed very daunting before.  I actually tackled a few sub-categories of it (such as fabric and stationery), but for the most part it's just there, huge and seemingly unconquerable.  I'm ready to give it another shot, though.
Photo of a back garden, showing an untidy patio, lawn, trees at the back, and chicken coop in the far corner
View from my back door, Feb 2017
In the meantime, I'm doing some deep cleaning, assisted by Franklin, age 6.  Yesterday I scrubbed off about three years of his stickers from the freezer door--it's nice and white again!  But there's a lot more to go;  housework isn't my forte, after all.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The last days before school starts

Laundry basket of rutabaga, growing nicely
With only two weeks left of our school summer break, I'm doing my best to relax before going back to work. 

Franklin and I have a goal to build with every single one of his legos, even the tiny ones.  We started building a tower, but decided to tear it down and try something else.  Over Christmas break we built a beach town with shops, vehicles, and animals like whales and fish--but we didn't manage to use every piece.  We're on a mission!
Pond filter cleared the pond!  What pretty fish
Partner's had some time off too, and will have next week off with us.  Two weeks ago we all went to the beach, on a sunny day.  We even went swimming in the sea!  I really enjoyed paddling about;  I don't think I've swum since I moved here, more than 10 years ago.  I don't even have a swimsuit anymore.  I swam in a black tunic and regular underwear.  I say swim, but I didn't go past my waist, as I didn't want to get swept out.  Still, it was deep enough to duck down and get wet all the way to my neck, and float around.

I've been harvesting vegetables from my garden every day, and some of them are really producing well.  We have so much chard;  over the last two days I've picked 2 pounds of it!  And the runner beans are finally taking off, almost a month later than last year.  But I'm picking them every day, and salting some down for the winter, too.  We've had one zuccini and one cucumber so far.  The zuccini plant had slug damage early on and took a while to recover;  it's still a bit sad.  Cucumber likewise, but at least it's growing more fruits, unlike the poor zuccini.  Still, we might get another couple before the season's done.  And one of my friends from my knitting group gave me a sack of her zuccinis, so all is not lost.

Before going back to school we hope to have a barbecue, maybe go to the beach again, and definitely pick a load of blackberries from the park.  And I'd like to put my log cabin quilt together too:  the top is all finished and it just needs a backing and some wadding (I have both--just need to assemble them).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

How we spent our anniversary

Myself and Partner with Chickens;  photo by Franklin
It's our wedding anniversary today.  Erm...which one?  More than 10, less than 15--it's been so long it's hard to remember!  What did we do to celebrate? 
Pond filter
Well, Partner spent a few hours redoing the pond filter--we obtained a second one from his mother--and I assisted him for about an hour.  He emptied the old one, cleaned it out, and we moved and refilled it.  I divided and replanted a pond sedge.  Partner did the same with a pond iris.

Franklin and I moved the chickens to a new patch of lawn.  Partner dusted the hen house with DE (to kill chicken mites).

We all went to the garden center and looked around, and bought three big bags of potting compost;  I planted up an old slightly broken plastic laundry basket, and sowed some seeds in a few trays and planters. 
Laundry basket planter:  classy!
We had beef stew for dinner with a big handful of garden chard (yum).  I picked enough chard to freeze a third of it.  I put yesterday's batch of frozen cherries into a freezer bag. 

I hung out the laundry on the line, and Partner and I both dashed out to save it from the rain (it stopped a minute later).  Franklin and Partner played games on the Wii.  I picked lots of of berberis berries for the chickens;  I staked a tall snapdragon next to the patio.  We ate some of the strawberry rhubarb jam I made, spread on rye crackers.

It was a good day, especially since we spent it together as a family.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Making, remaking, mending

I enjoy making things, particularly out of textiles.  I do all sorts of textile crafts, including knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, embroidery, and rug making.
T shirt rug
For a year or two I've collected Partner's old worn out t shirts, and this spring I finally took the plunge and made a rag rug from them.  I've made one other rag rug before, by braiding long strips of rags and sewing them together.  That took ages, and was really hard on my fingers.  This new rug was braided/woven in as I went along, with each new round braided into the previous round.  I'm not sure what the technique is called, but it went very quickly;  I think I finished the rug in about a week, from cutting strips to finishing.  This technique only needs short strips of rags, making it a great way to use up scraps.  My rug took 8 men's L and XL shirts, and measures about 4'x3'.  I would definitely make another one;  it was a quick, satisfying project.
Franklin's pullover
I actually knit the above pullover for Franklin last year.  It took me more than a month to complete, and I was so sick of it by the end!  Though I'm very pleased with how it turned out, it was a very tedious knit:  narrow yarn in dark colors.  I won't be making any more dark colored knits like this any time soon. 
Baby v-neck pullover
My mother in law gifted me some of her yarn stash and patterns, and I knit the above and below baby things using them.  I made these without a recipient in mind, but enjoyed making something small and quick.  I think they took me about a week apiece to finish.  I still have quite a bit of leftover yarn;  no doubt more baby things are in the future, if only to use it up.
Baby v-neck cardigan
I generally have a knitting project on the go--at the moment I'm using up more of my MIL's stash to make another pullover for Franklin.  He's getting bigger (six years old now) so it takes longer to finish.  I prefer to finish my current project before beginning something new, but I sometimes have two different crafts at once:  right now my second is a patchwork quilt.  I enjoyed making my last applique quilt so much that I'm even contemplating hand quilting this one too...but I might just tie it instead and be done with it.

Not only do I make textile crafts, I also mend them.  Today I mended two torn seams on my favorite skirt, and patched a hole in an old pair of pajama bottoms.  My pj top could do with some mending too, but maybe I'll save that for another day.  I've got a pair of woolly leggings I sewed last year which I keep darning:  they must have about 50 darns now!  But I love them so much, it's worth my time to keep them going;  and luckily I have matching wool so the darns don't really show.  My other pair of leggings are full of holes, but I'm not sure it's worth it to repair them;  they are storebought, made from nylon and to be honest, don't fit as well or feel as nice as the woollies.  Still, I'm so cheap I might just darn them anyway rather than buy another pair.  Maybe using wool thread so they feel nicer!