Friday, May 3, 2019

missing may

Hello friends,

How are you? How's your week been?

Late last week I got a message from a reader questioning something I'd written on my blog. Or rather questioning a world event I'd chosen not to mention. To omit.

It wasn't from anyone who regularly contributes to the comment section on my blog. And it wasn't written in an attacking manner. It was fine really. But for some reason it really stuck in my mind and I couldn't let it go.

The first part was me continuing to ask myself the same question she had asked me. Why did I decide recently to talk about the Christchurch mosque shootings while failing to make mention of other horrific world events since? How do I make the decision of what to include and what not to? What is the tone of this blog and what sort of issues do I want to make mention of or to discuss? Is it okay anymore to write a personal blog about life in my little bubble, or do I have a responsibility to the world to acknowledge events and politics and to take a stance? And what if I don't always feel comfortable with that?

And I guess the second part is that if this is my personal blog, how is it fair that other people get to question what I choose to blog about? I do know that I'm being naive and that the way the online world works these days is that everyone gets to judge and opine and question. I also know that I am sosososososososososososososososososososo lucky and unusual that a simple, polite question is as tough as it gets when there is so much hatred out there. I can list the negative comments I've received over the past 10 years on two hands (and this recent comment definitely isn't one of them). I'm sure that's virtually unheard of. But having said that I do miss the golden olden days of blogs past when we shared so much of ourselves and were constantly inundated with kindness and compassion and encouragement.

Over the past few years the number of blogs being written has diminished, blog interaction has diminished, my readership has diminished, and let's face it - being a mum of teenagers - the things I can blog about have diminished. So what do I talk about? Who is my blog?

I've had all of these questions and thoughts sloshing around my head all week only to be further confused when a brand that we believe in ethically and ideologically, a brand we buy and use regularly, contacted me to work with them. I've never written sponsored content before but it did make me wonder whether using this space to spread the word about good people and companies would help me feel more at ease with all of these issues. Not to mention allowing my words and images to pay for the time it takes to create them. I don't think so but it's been interesting to think about.

Anyway the point is I woke up this morning and didn't feel like blogging. I know how much my blog posts mean to Indi while she is so far away, and I was lucky enough to have some photos taken yesterday as a starting point, but other than that I felt stuck. I still do.

In this great big online world of experts and hash-tags and people shouting to be heard, I feel like I need some time out to think about who my blog is, what it stands for, and what it needs to look like moving into the future. It interests me that I've come to this point only weeks away from my June 23 ten years anniversary of this blog.

Gosh it feels weird and a bit cringe-worthy to look back at my first blog post now. To remember myself wanting to move away from farm blogging and to find myself a place in the online craft world. It's funny to read my definite statement that I would try any craft but NEVER ceramics. And it's amazing to have those memories of sitting by the girls' baths and in school assemblies crocheting, of those sweet little embroidered tops I used to make and they used to wear, and to remember how excited and inspired I felt at the discovery of the craft blogging world. How many craft blogs there seemed to be. And the promise of the community within them.

Things have changed. Of course they have. From the big wide real world, to the online world, to my little family world. I guess now I need to work out where my blog fits in with all of that.

So I think I'm going to go against the blog-every-day-in-May of the past few years and give May a miss this year.

Hopefully I'll see you again in June.

I hope your May is extremely lovely.

See you soon.

Love, Kate xx

PS sorry Indi (this would be a great time for a guest blog though??)
PPS for some reason blogger won't let me reply to your comments on last week's post. Weird. But maybe a push to move platforms finally.

Friday, April 26, 2019

twenty five

This past week...

I used every spare second I had to throw clay pots on my borrowed wheel. I have a whole post in my head about being a beginner that will hopefully make it onto the blog before too long. It's such an interesting and humbling process. I am completely addicted though and am wondering if I might have to buy my own wheel when the borrowed one has to go back.

Our coffee machine broke!!

A nearest and dearest had a health scare and thank goodness is now clear.

I fought long and hard with one of my kids and then we made up and now our relationship is heavenly. If only it could stay this way.

I went to gym five times! I think that must be my record.

The world got a little less colourful when we lost Cam @curlypops last Tuesday.

We thought we were definitely destined to run out of water in the next few days but this morning farmer Bren went up the hill with a ladder, climbed up and peered in the tank and discovered it is half full after all. YES!!!! Not quite enough for a bath, but possibly enough not to worry.

We rediscovered Roman Mars and the 99% Invisible podcast.

We had our first camp-fire cooked bbq dinner of the season.

We picked armfuls of flowers.

I still haven't labelled the dahlias.

We pulled more of the summer crops out of the garden and replaced them with winter ones.

We went to a few garage sales and bought a cane chair, a punching bag, some paints and brushes, a tin of buttons and a tub of wool.

I crocheted four granny squares just to see if I still could.

We started the countdown until we see Indi.

We discovered that our kitten loves eating cucumbers.

We picked and podded thousands of beans.

My niece stayed with us for a few nights.

Miss Pepper swept up three cratefuls of golden leaves that had fluttered down from the grape vine and landed on the back deck and become a sludgy, slippery mess.

Farmer Bren turned some beautiful wooden bowls.

I spent ages searching instagram for beautiful ceramic shapes.

We started watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and we're absolutely loving it!!

I started knitting a blue beanie just for something to do with my hands on a big driving day last Friday.

We're still picking and eating tomatoes and cucumbers and strawberries.

I finished reading Flames by Robbie Arnott which I absolutely loved and last night I started by Nathan Englander (my mum called it 'a romp' when she handed it over - I'm actually not quite sure what that means - but I'm intrigued).

That's all I can think of off the top of my head but I might include some more if I think of some.

How about you?
Quickly tell me a couple of things that you've been up to.
If you feel like it.
I'd love to know.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

See you in a week.

Love, Kate x

Friday, April 19, 2019

country dahlias two

It's a magical feeling to find yourself back in a place you visited exactly a year before and notice how much you've grown. Last year we visited Country Dahlias near the end of our first season as flower farmers. Jenny's two acre garden has Australia's largest collection of dahlias with 2,250 different types and over 20,000 bushes.

Last year we'd planted two rows of tubers; we'd staked them, irrigated them, made peace with their pests, picked their flowers, dead-headed them, sold them and given them away, and absolutely fallen head over heels in love with each and every plant. All in all it was a great first season and when we arrived at Country Dahlias all we knew is that we wanted more. We were completely overwhelmed. We loved the colours, we loved the shapes, we loved the pom-poms, we loved the huge ones and the mini ones, and we wrote a wish-list so long that it went over the page. This is the blog post I wrote back then.

A couple of weeks after we visited Country Dahlias last year we experienced our first frost and the end of the season. We let the plants die down, the weather closed in and we dug up their tubers in weather so cold and wet it hurt. We tried to keep the varieties named and separated but by that time the main thing was to get them out of the mud so they wouldn't rot. We brought them in and buried them deep inside boxes of saw-dust from Bren's lathe. We only had two rows but it felt like quite a big job and had us looking over lovingly at the rows of perennial flowers that were independently and quietly taking care of themselves.

By early spring we were itching to get our tubers out of the saw-dust and into the ground. We watched some YouTube and learnt how to divide them and then in November we planted them all. Five rows this time. And again they bloomed like crazy and we adored them.

This year on what feels like it'll become our annual pilgrimage to Jenny's I still had that same heart full of love feeling and I still felt so full of joy I could burst, but we also felt like more seasoned dahlia growers. We recognised so many of the varieties - some even by name, we thought a lot about practicalities - like stem length and strength, we tried to find gaps in our collection, and as always Bren was on the hunt for the perfect white. And this time we only ordered 10 tubers - I still can't believe we were so restrained.

I still can't believe we're so close to the end of this season. I'd really love to have each plant labeled with its name and colour and description before we lose them, but I've had the tags cut out stacked in a neat pile for weeks now and it still hasn't happened. There's always something more pressing to do. Maybe I'll get to it this weekend.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend my friends. Whether it's filled with matza or chocolate or something completely different, I hope it's delicious.

Lots of love to you wherever this finds you. Where is that by the way? And what will you be eating?

See you next week!

Love, Kate


Friday, April 12, 2019

toast and tea

I've dead-headed the dahlias.

I've picked a little bunch for my bed-side.

And a bigger bunch for the kitchen.

Farmer Bren has cut a hole in the roof of the shed and plumbed in an old wood-heater.

He's making tea and toast on it as we speak.

And putting the finishing touches on a beautiful new wooden bowl.

While Miss Pepper sands and oils the letters she cut out on the scroll saw.

And I'm absolutely busting to get the pottery wheel my friend Petrus leant me out of the car and to give it a spin.

I hope you'll forgive my quick post today but as you can see I've got toast to eat and bowls to spin (hopefully).

How about you my friends, what are you up to this fine Friday?
Are you ticking off jobs or are you taking it easy?
What are you cooking, picking, making and thinking about?

I hope you have a beautiful weekend.

See you next Friday.

Love, Kate x

Friday, April 5, 2019

dahlias at dusk

Last night as Bren was filling and rolling the haloumi and salad roti wraps for dinner, I looked out the window and saw the golden glow on the flower garden. Jazzy had already had a shower and gotten into her pyjamas but Pepper was still dressed (and covered with texta drawings). I asked her to grab a pair of secateurs and to follow me outside.

The breeze was still warm from the day as we walked up and down the rows snipping and chatting and snapping. We were spoiled for choice and quickly picked an armful.

After almost 10 years of blogging I know that the fewer photos I take of a scene the better and the quicker when it comes to editing and choosing, but still the light was so perfect that I couldn't help myself. Between 6.50 and 7.04pm I took 34 photos. How fine it is to live in the digital age.

I am savouring these moments of floral abundance. I am trying to imprint their headiness on my soul. I walk the rows often running my fingers over their soft petals and bouncing them off my palms. I spend minutes watching the bees collecting pollen. I love seeing the flower petal confetti covering the floor. I hope that the few who still haven't flowered will put on a last minute show. I dead-head them to encourage more growth. I pick them at every opportunity. And I adore them and tell them so often.

These past few days I have noticed that some of the stems are starting to be thinner and not able to hold up their heavy headed blooms. I have seen the dahlia faces open up with their centres blown. I have been trying my hardest not to feel sad about these signs of the end of the season but instead to admire their new phase.

You know what? I wish I could give you this bunch of flowers for your weekend. I love the thought of you holding them in your arms, turning them over to look at each one, taking them home and into your kitchen, filling up your favourite vase with water and them arranging them just so. And then as they catch your eye over the weekend you'd be reminded of how grateful I am for your company. How much it means to me that you come here each week and read my words. How my stories have meant something to you. How you've seen my girls grow over the seasons. How your comments make me think and feel and wonder.  How even though we've never met you still feel like my friend.

Thank you!!

It just occurred to me that I don't think I've ever asked you what your favourite flower is. I'd love to know.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend my friends.
See you next Friday.

Love, Kate x

Friday, March 29, 2019

the autumn break

Hello honey bunches,

How's your week been?

From where I'm sitting on the day-bed in my room I can hear Bren stacking a load of fire-wood in the wood-shed. We are expecting a big, wintery, weather change this afternoon or tonight and the list of things to do to prepare for it is endless. Bring in, tie up, take down, gather, cover, pick, pack up, clean, set up...I feel a bit guilty sitting here. 

This morning when I realised it was Friday and I hadn't taken one photo all week I ran around quickly and took a bunch. The light was glarey and they're all a bit overexposed but hopefully they capture the moment and tell the story. I'll go through them quickly and fill in the details for you.

Everywhere you look right now there are baskets and crates and bowls of produce waiting to be eaten and preserved and shared.

Every vase in the house is filled with flowers from the garden.

I grew that heirloom glass gem corn just because it's so pretty. There's a whole lot more to harvest this afternoon, hopefully I get to it.

I've been making dried apple rings using my old recipe from here.

The apple crates are on their last legs, even though we're slowly finishing planting them up for winter, I'm not convinced they'll all see the the season through.

We've grown so many different types of bean this year. Over the next few weeks we plan to pick them, pod them, cook some up in a sauce and preserve them for winter and dry out the rest.

I tried to grow a few different varieties of nasturtiums this season but only this old fave really thrived. And climbed.

It's hard to imagine the garden going back to just green after such a riot of colour. I know I say it all the time but I seriously wish we could live here without winter.

We're currently eating silverbeet in everything we can squeeze it into. (Mum I still can't believe you bought some from the shop the other day!)

We've had an incredible tomatoes season this year. We have eaten heaps and preserved more than enough to last until next season. These purple ones have been fun to grow and eat.

I didn't grow any yellow eating corn this year because I have yet to find a variety that we love. I have however grown that colourful type and a blue popcorn.

These crazy colourful beauties have filled my heart with so much joy, I don't know how I'm going to survive all the grey months to come without them.

The bee frenzy in every flower this morning makes me think that they're feeling the same.

But cold, wintery days do have their pluses. Or so I keep reminding myself.

I got a fresh delivery of fleece from my spinning teacher Rebecca this week which is exciting. It's been months since I've been anywhere near my spinning wheel, I hope I can remember what to do.

And I cast off the Astrid socks in the photo at the top a few days ago and started thinking about casting on the colour-work sweater I've been dreaming of for years, or maybe just a great big shawl to wrap myself up in.

It's 2.30 now and it's blowing a gale outside. In half an hour I've got to drive to pick Jazzy up from school and hopefully I'll make it home before the rain to get some of the jobs done. I'd dearly love to cut some more flowers and to pick through the tomatoes. But if I don't, well I'll just have to close my eyes when I get home and hope for the best.

So what's going on in your life my friends?
What are you planning? Hoping for? Making? Watching? Wondering? Dreaming? Writing?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I hope you have something lovely to look forward to, I hope you get enough rest and I hope that you get some time to do something sweet just for you.

Sending extra big love out over the seas to our biggest girl who is asleep in her own bed right now after a big week away. We adore you and are in awe of you Miss Indi Apple xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Lots of love,

Kate xx

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