silver crescents, her muslin blanket and earthen bowls for soup
Hanging from my earlobes are delicate silver crescents. Classic and beautiful, they bear the intricate markings of a maker. Embedded in the small details and embellishments, the curves and the shine are not only the aesthetics of a jeweller but also, her journey as an artist. The seed of creativity, the fashioning of raw materials into something practical and beautiful, the elation when a vision becomes reality and all the frustration when it just doesn't work. There are many hours hammered into these small hoops and when I wear them I feel a connection to their maker, to humanity.
Lately I've been popping little pieces of handmade into my Etsy cart and eagerly waiting their arrival. Slowly, slowly I am replacing the worn, the broken and the down right ugly with pieces filled with soul. Yes, pennies have to be saved to make these purchases but they speak of a shift away from the fast fashion, "use once and throw away" philosophy. I'm really scrutinising what we use on a daily basis and keeping our possessions to a minimum. Pieces of superior workmanship are chosen with care to imbue our home with individuality; we're defining our own particular style away from a mass produced, cookie cutter aesthetic. This conscious consumerism feels good.
When I eat soup in an earthen bowl made from locally sourced clay or when I wrap my baby in a crocheted blanket I feel the kinship. Makers creating with passion, honouring traditions and passing on their unique character within their work. In an often disjointed and robotic world this connection gives me a real sense of peace.
There is a stoneware vase of white roses on our dining table. Some petals are still velvety and unblemished whilst others are turning papery and transparent. They look a little flat after a week or so away from the earth and I can't help but droop with them in sympathy. This week has been a long one with lingering sniffles and a girl keen on asserting herself as she navigates the role of big sister. But ah, it's the weekend.
I'll fight the urge to write a list of plans as I do for the week. These be restricting on weekends and when left undone have a way of deflating, a feeling I could definitely do without. Instead I'll jot down a few intentions - a simple manifesto for the two days. May they inspire and motivate me.
For every negative thought, or case of the grumps I will drink a glass of water. As the weather cools I'm often neglectful of my water intake and the lack of it could be the very cause of said grumps.
Lie in child's pose for a time. Stretch my muscles, let my body sink into the floor and exhale. Smile.
Make a simple omelette and savour it with parsley from the garden and lots of cracked pepper.
Take off my shoes and run my toes through the cool sand in their sand pit. The combination of cold sand beneath me and a warm scarf about my neck will be sure to enliven the senses. Tea resting on the grass beside me and my knitting basket handy will make it all the more sweeter.
Watch Rachel Khoo and maybe, just maybe book in for that haircut. I had a fringe a few years ago and it might be time to embrace it again.
Not that long ago it was an uninspiring corner of our backyard. Choked with leggy ferns and stones, the soil was seemingly stripped of life. Yet the light was good. "A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day" so they say is necessary with the more gentle morning sun preferred. A tap within easy reach, good drainage and a quick slipper clad trip from the kitchen to pluck and snip for evening meals. If I squinted really hard I could almost see the landscape begin to reveal itself - our vegetable garden.
In the spirit of "make do and mend" we set ourselves the challenge of creating this kitchen garden for free. Seeds, compost and manure could be purchased but the nuts and bolts of it all had to be found, traded or created. A motley assortment of bricks and pavers were scavenged in dark crevices under the house and a chance conversation at a nearby building sight yielded the last few. Four garden beds were then mapped out; an ochre perimeter to keep grass away and define the space. The soil was turned, and turned again. Finally, rotted manure and good compost added nourishment and encouraged necessary minutiae to set up home. And when the earth was rich and friable we began planting.
The tiny specks of leek seeds *, round and corky beetroot ones and cucumber, "Just like in the real cucumber!" said Remy. Careful furrowing, measuring distances between and gentle watering. Such precision and much scrutinising certainly bore the marks of "amateurs" but we were all involved; we were all so keen.
A few months have passed and our yields have been modest. One could hardly call them a harvest yet we take our basket out anyway. This ceremony of plucking this and that to grace our table brings us together in a common joy. To watch seed turn to plant, turn to fruit, is such a wonder and I'm thankful that already, my children are learning where their food really comes from. Yes, it's scrappy and a bit rough around the edges. But our veggie garden has brought satisfaction and a deepening respect for home. We spend more time together outside than before, we're tending something with care and consideration, and we are ever hopeful. A manifesto for living perhaps? I have no doubt this vegetable garden will enrich our lives in so many more ways than just filling our bellies.
Do you have a vegetable garden? Are you a gloves on or off kind of gardener?
* We purchase our seeds from Green Harvest, an Australian, organic gardening website. The range of heirloom seeds is wonderful and they provide great advice on what to plant in your area.
I leave before everyone wakes with a wicker basket in tow. The local Farmers Market is alive and bustling early and I select our weekly nourishment from heaving tables. Yesterday there were new season apples and tiny Cole pears, just right for little hands and mouths. And cavelo nero, baby carrots and fresh borlotti beans for a warming soup. When my basket can hold no more I return home as the house is stirring with coffee and warm croissants. It is warm and sleepy inside and as I feed Ines the babies unpack my basket like pirates unearthing golden treasure. There is much sampling and commentary and questions. Stock will be made later with last week's lack lustre remnants. Leftover fruit will be stewed gently with a little water and maple syrup and a cinnamon stick.
Sunday is sheet washing day. Sometimes there is a blanket tent erected, sometimes not but always there is rough housing, jumping on bare beds and shrieks of laughter as bellies are tickled. As the sun warms the back deck, pillows are lined up like soldiers to bask in its rays. This simple practice kills germs and dust mite and brings a certain freshness to a newly made bed that only the sun can do. The garden will be perused and Darren and I make plans of this and that. I might sand back the wooden painted high chair for a time and he might push them on the swings. We stay close to each other and let the gentle day unfurl.
As the light changes and the cool afternoon wind brings us inside I begin my Sunday potter. There is no real urgency nor list of to dos rather a gentle wander from room to room setting things right for the week ahead; a study in mindfulness and gratitude for my home that sets the tone for a calm week. Jam jars of flowers dotted about the house receive fresh water and pot plants given some attention. Books are re-shelved and surfaces cleared whilst rose otto and sandalwood oils imbue the air with uplifting notes, their aromas bringing harmony and grounding after the week's push and pull. There's a row or two of knitting, maybe a board game and many cups of tea.
We bath the babies early and settle in for the evening with soup and crusty bread for dinner. I smile as I look across the table at the clean and shiny little people in flannelette pjs. It's been a day without rush, without demands. A day of nourishment and rest. Sunday - It's a good day.