Thursday, January 30, 2020

This downsizing has become an unstoppable force

Not thinking about downsizing today, more wondering about a lovely little Shelley teaset  I have packed away. I'll show you when I unpack it.

 The story is that I sold it to a friend, who then after a lot of backing and filling, loved the set, perfect condition,  declined to accept it, insisted I keep the check. I never did find out what the back story was, but surmised there was domestic arguing about buying yet more china, but they didn't want me to be the loser because of it.

Which annoyed me, because I wanted to sell it locally, no shipping angst. Though there was getting the right box, and the right packing material, earthfriendly, careful packing all for naught.  So I put it away in a snit.

Then during the night I thought:  why don't I just unpack and enjoy it myself? I'm worth it. So I will. The opposite of downsizing, but oddly, it fits into the idea of keeping what you use and enjoy.

So today, I made another bag of other dishes and kitchen gear for the thriftie, including sorting the dyeing supplies (in the kitchen, because stove and water), which are now in one single crate

 and studied bookshelves.

The result is: one empty, one partly

And a bag of books, readable but not up to library needs for the thriftie run

And a bag of library donations.

Also plans for two folding bookshelves still in the studio, one to replace the white bookcase, one to replace a big bookshelf thing currently storing shoes near the front door.

I may already have a taker for the big one. The others will adorn the dumpster area until they're picked up by neighbors.

Not bad for a day of officially not doing much.

I'd say I added value to the day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Soup, and more soup

My neighbor, the one who delivered the chess set, brought me a bowl of freshmade Italian Wedding Soup the other night.

Great timing,  since I was out of soup.

Then yesterday I watched Kate on Last Homely House making soup, this one cashew ( which she pronounces kshOO), and carrot, and I thought, well, that's one I haven't tried.

So tonight I made it, cashews, carrots from the freezer, knew I'd use them soon, ginger, frozen, chunks ready for this, onion, freezer, garlic likewise, are you seeing a pattern? How to be ready!

I did notice two schools of thought on the cashews: one that you soak, drain, rinse, faff around, but don't add them till the soup is done, and Kate, who slung a handful in right from the container and cooked them along with the rest of the ingredients. I soaked briefly, but did chuck them in with the soup right along.

And it worked a treat. I wondered if I'd like this, maybe a bit sweet.

Found that my only complaint is there isn't enough. Next time I'm doubling the recipe because it's wonderful. I like enough soup for now, and tomorrow and a few helpings in the freezer. This recipe made three bowls. Need more!

The best part of winter is soup.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Signs of spring

Outdoors, the first two snowdrops, tight shut yet

Indoors the pot of primula in the kitchen

just getting under way.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Great Winnowing sends a chess set out

This is one downsizing that merits its own blogpost.

Handsome Partner's beloved chess set, which I gave him many years ago.

He was a good player and we both used this set a lot. We replayed the Fischer-Spassky tournament on it, playing every evening over a couple of weeks, took it to a chess club we founded, too.

In recent years it's been dusted and admired but needed players. And last   evening, I asked a friend if they knew of a good person for it.

Tomorrow it's on its way to a young high school counselor who uses a bit of chess teaching to calm and center distracted students. He only has a little plastic one now, what he could afford, in his first job. I'm hoping for pictures of his new one in action.

This was a joyful deaccession.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Great Winnowing Reaches the Tipping Point

So here we are.

Most of the art materials are now in the walk-in closet all visible and accessible. The crates that are stacked are light in weight, easy to lift.

 The space you see is for these

heavier or unwieldier items, need help bringing these down.

It's going well. My house cleaners are coming next week and I think they'll be pleased at how much easier it will be to vacuum up here.

When I eventually move, I'll still be a client. I may have to mention that, just in case the Great Winnowing gets them concerned.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Bark and bite working together

Early for Valentine's day, which I extend to everyone. It's for friends, neighbors, acquaintances, not just couples!

So I got ahead with a bit of candy making. I rarely do this, made toffee about five years ago, not a good idea to have it around a lot.

But I was given homemade peppermint chocolate bark at Christmas, and thought I'd like to try it. It's about as complicated as making a sandwich.

I just melted white chocolate chips with a drop of peppermint essence in a small pan over hot water, spread it on tinfoil, melted darker chocolate chips in the same pan, no need to wash, poured that over the first layer, cooled it a while then forked designs into the dark layer, broke it up randomly.

A few pieces in the fridge, cook's privilege, the rest in the freezer till VDay giving happens.

Reading and where it leads to

It leads to more reading at this point.

In urgent need of some antidote to the urgent and fearful things going on, still being politically active as I can, on what I see as the right side, I still need some sort of mental resting place, who doesn't.

I came across this a couple of days ago. It's a rapid read, maybe an hour, which I did on the sofa, hand-knitted blanket over my legs. Very welcome.

And it led me to my current plunge-in reading, The Cazalet Chronicles.

 Instant access as ebook, and it's become my go-to. Very readable and well wrought. Elizabeth Jane Howard knew what she was doing.

After a few trips up two flights to collect crates to bring down one flight and stow in the guest room closet, I get the reward of reading while my legs recover, ready for the next trips.

On the Great Winnowing, I've winnowed down to where I'm putting the art materials a floor down, in the guest room, very accessible, surprisingly compact.

All the clothes I had in the guest room closet are now moved to the bedroom closet. I never put clothes in there during Duncan and Marigold's life, because their boxes were there. This has freed up space for art materials.

I loaded the car yesterday for the next thriftie run, between snow showers.

And offloaded frames, matboard, and nice wood boxes to a friend who's a contractor, woodworker, artist, who can use them. Some of the frames will go to his daughter.

I say, lightly, frames. In fact framed artwork I have no further investment in, and he can use them for other artwork. They're metal sections, so getting ready-framed work means all the wire, screws and clips are there, easy to reuse. We're both happy.

I'm not a curator or conservator of my art. To me the opposite of curating is creating. Once the work has been out there, I'm done. It's like letting children go off to their own lives. So exhibiting, selling or eventually donating is all fine.

I don't really miss earlier work, because I'm usually engrossed  in the next studio adventure. That makes it easier to part with them. Just ripping off the band-aid.

And now for a bowl of homemade veggie soup, with homemade whole-wheat/oat bread with caraway seeds, and Cazalet Chronicles.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Oatmeal banana cookies, iteration two

In the interests of food science research, and because most of the first batch might be gone before Handsome Son gets over here to try them, I made a second batch.

This time I used white chocolate chips (how can they be chocolate then?  Oh well), and left the mixture overnight. This worked fine to make the dough more workable.

But once again I got ten, not the promised dozen. So either the YouTube lady has smaller hands than I, since she shaped them in her hands and I did likewise. Or maybe she has bigger bananas..

Anyway if you have time to mix the dough but now you want to go to bed, it can wait till next day just fine.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Take a break, they said. But first..

Today I am Not Going to Move Anything. I need a break from downsizing and deciding and getting anxious.

But first, these items have already been accepted by the library. Art books, classical music CDs. Either for the collection or the next book sale.

So I'll take them in this afternoon when I go to my knitting group.

After that I'm taking the rest of the day off.

If you like a bit of encouragement about self care, from a world-class sewist and costume maker and worrier, Cathy Hay, she has a great YouTube channel. She's why I'm taking a break. Cathy said to.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The great winnowing creaks on

Today a carload of art materials, tools, quilting hoops, dollhouse furniture (toy not miniature), picture frames, to the thriftie.

And since it's a distance and an effort, a small reward,

needed corduroy pants for winter, silk cardi. Brand names, change from $10.

Meanwhile back in the studio, this is the reduced supply department, one artform per crate. Plus folding shelves.

And here's the start of the next thriftie run, also recycling.

 To date only one very small bag has gone to the garbage.

And these will go on Friday to a young friend to hold up his canoe, he tells me.

There will be more sawhorses available once the other worktop is recycled, and the folding shelves above resume their supporting role for the one remaining worktop. They bring it up to a good height for standing work, which is how I work.

All in all, a good Monday morning.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Three part snack

Simple recipe showed up on my YouTube tl this morning, and if I can find the origin again, I'll credit her.

It's cookie things, using two mashed bananas, one and a half cups oats, and a bunch of chocolate chips or whatever you want to put. It's like banana bread in that you add in what you want or happen to have around.


After. They look exactly the same.

Oven at 350f, 15 minutes. Cool, put in airtight tin, will last a week. Who am I kidding? I never encounter stale cookies, nor cake. Nor leftover caviar, for that matter.

Anyway I got ten, recipe claims a dozen, but who's counting. For people for whom it's an issue, they are gluten free and vegan, too.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

January flowers now, with a bonus

Here's the current state of the flowers. Carnations cut back, pachysandra unchanged, anemone petals about to be consigned to the freezer.

The idea about the petals is to hammer the color into linen or some other natural fiber. You did know you can do that? Lay out the destination fabric, arrange petals on it, cover with another cloth, hammer at will.

 It's lovely, and not only transfers shape and colors very pleasingly, but satisfies the urge to hit things with a hammer. I have such urges, and it's better to restrict it to inanimate objects.

You can also use petals to wrap and steam in silk to transfer similarly.  Anyway, no need to waste lovely strong pigment.

Flowers and making stuff are keeping me going. That and visiting charming kitties.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Cats ahoy!

Now that I am catless, it's an occasional pleasure to take care of a couple of friends' cats for a few days.

I had a home-visiting petcare business for many years, until 9.11 ended it, different story, will explain on request.

Meanwhile it means I literally tended hundreds of animals of  many species over the years and never once did even the shyest one fail to come out to play. 

Owners would say you'll never meet Fluff, he only comes out for me, but let me me just find a picture of him -- oh, there he is on your head!

This week's kitties no exception. You'll never see Mao, he hides all the time, she said..

Mao and Phinnie, his partner in crime, both out on every visit, Mao on the counter, insisting on petting, headbutting me, pushing his head into my hand, usual performance of a confident cat.
Phinnie looking on with his best spawn of Satan gaze.

Every scrap of food eaten. I think they're okay.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Thoughts in downsizing today, no pix. Pretend it's radio.

On the subject of clearing out stuff, I've had a few waves of emotion as I've been doing it.

And first I had to remember to let them happen. Not tell myself not to get down. I'd never tell anyone else that, so why not be kind to me, too.

For me it's the adventure of starting a big change in my life, the prospect of moving, different environment. Alone. I've done a lot of major stuff alone, been single twice as many years as I've been partnered.

Sometimes this feels exciting, sometimes, in the middle of the night, scary. So it's okay not to be perfectly calm and accepting all the time. Some of the time would be good, though.

Back to the clearing: we all do it differently. I'm not much for the counting of items as I go. Largely because art materials don't exactly lend themselves to counting. But I do like to go by small area, such as just one surface, or one cabinet. That way I can see results.

And since my main focus is the studio, which is on the third floor, I'm getting a lot of stairs in. Last evening I wondered why I was so tired, until I realized how many flights I'd been up and down, and how much lifting and lugging I'd done. It's heavy work. Especially to a lady in her ninth decade.

Which brings me to the last bit: I'm so glad I'm allowing a lot of time to do this. If you can manage that, it avoids a lot of stress.

There, go forth and chuck stuff around!

But maybe a little reward might be good, just to keep up your energy. My English Christmas treats arrived, a bit late, but calling for a pic after all

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Crackers! Edible ones.

Once in an eon I stop thinking about baking crackers and actually do it. I will not buy them because I like to know what I'm eating, and the shop ones  are tricked out with all kinds of stuff to make them shelf stable, happy travellers and such, and I don't think that preserves the person eating them as much as it preserves the crackers. Where was I, oh yes.

Today I baked whole-wheat, olive oil, seasalt, caraway seed crackers. I added the seeds to the recipe because I like them and they were right there, next to the seasalt.

The recipe made about twice as much as stated, maybe because I rolled them thinner. Anyway I did two batches.

This is where I bless Handsome Son for giving me a great rolling pin years ago, and myself for investing in a couple of dough scrapers. They help you pick up thin dough,  score it,  as here,  so as to break up easily, once baked, and to clean up afterwards. My kind of tool.

Because you don't want to roll indefinitely and create the consistency of iron, you do have to allow for wavy edges. Not a problem if the crackers look artisanal, which mine definitely do. As long as they taste artisanal. They do that, too.

Batch one being lifted to avoid permanent attachment to the board

Dough scraper used to score cracker shapes.

Batch one cooled and bust up, looking artisanal

Batch two, cooling and looking like a continental map.

And this is where I give a shout to my long departed Mom, who never explained anything about cooking or baking to me, too busy doing it for a big family.  I still learned a thing or two from watching.

Like rolling in one direction, lifting the pin at the end, carrying it back to reset at the beginning again. Not rolling back and forward. This avoids dough like iron. And rolling dough over the pin to move it. And lifting it to sprinkle more flour underneath. I think I imitate the way she handled a ball of dough. Especially breadmaking, forming a loaf before inserting it into the pan. And more.

I think this is how we live on, in the skills and attitudes we pass on. Anyway that's my hope.

Cheese, crackers and a glass of white moscato later. Cheers!

Happy New year's Resolution. Again.

This is a continuing resolution (little congressional joke there), fresh flowers on the first of the month.

Years ago I decided it was hopeless trying for further self improvement, heck, at this point I'm as good as I'm going to get, for better or worse. Instead I decided, since I don't attend to myself a lot, that I should have a treat of fresh flowers on the first of each month.

So this post had to wait till I shopped and brought them home, picked pachysandra outside, and arranged them. Anemones aka lilies of the field, carnations, and homegrown handy pachy. Arranged in an antique Trenton Potteries jar, local ware.

Happy New year to you, and I hope you have a great year, peaceful and safe and well.