I had occasion to pass along some rather sentimental, but useful, items to someone who needed them a lot more than me this week. It was difficult watching things I spent time, money and love on choosing, but it was the right thing to do. I’ve been faithfully following the KonMari method for some time now and it has been instrumental in reforming my habits. If I allowed myself to be so, I would keep a lot more of the stuff I love but no longer use. Forcing myself to interact physically with the objects I thought I needed to hold onto in order to maintain a link between my memories and my feelings about the things has been the breakthrough I needed.
I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank when I was younger and really connecting with her phrase “memories mean more to me than dresses.” I had wrapped up my memories with the dresses (and other things) to such an extent that I came to realise what I really feared was not letting go of the dresses, but that I would lose the happy memories I associated with them. It has been hugely cathartic to find that I have given myself permission to Let It Go after such a long time. The things I gave away this week were, to the person who received them gratefully, simply things, but it was a wonderful feeling to know that they were going to a good home and that the person who now has them will build their own memories with the objects I still have happy memories off.
So if you are afraid to Let It Go, please think about why you have that fear and what you’re really afraid of – is it the thing or the memories associated with it? Fear not, no one can take away the happy thoughts that have come from the objects you once held dear but no longer spark joy.
I have a plethora of makeup brushes, my cleaning of which is too sporadic. One of my orchids is getting around to a job that’s been long-fingered. Today, the job was cleaning these brushes. I asked for some advice on what to use as I never feel they get really clean with my usual method, namely, grabbing whatever liquid or bar soap is on the sink and scrubbing for a while, then leaving to dry. I was recommended Dr. Bronner’s soap. I remember hearing about this stuff before, but had never got around to buying it. In a touch of serendipity, I happened upon a bottle of the stuff in a discount shop today and my brushes are soaking as I type. I’m skeptical about the bottle’s claims to be as all purpose as the wordy label suggests, and the whacky religious stuff isn’t something that sells a product to me, but I shall report back on the efficacy of the product itself and ignore the label. It is a nice lavender colour, though.
I’m probably in some sort of minority but I’ve never read To Kill A Mockingbird. One of Marjorie’s cases refers to a woman who has set out a course of reading for her (thankfully few) free evenings. I’m adding the Harper Lee classic to my list.
I’m staring a month of holiday time in the face. Circumstances have pushed me to take almost four weeks paid leave from work. Plans include ever more decluttering, some hairdresser time and doing couch to 5k. Since I got married almost five years ago my running habit has all but disappeared. This week I decided to resume it and I’ve earmarked Tuesday as the day to start it. It would be so nice to get properly back into shape by the time I’m back in work.
I dread performance reviews for my job. I have a pretty good work ethic and care about my job a lot. I also like my job and I want to keep it, so I always get a little stressed when my annual review comes up. I probably shouldn’t worry so much, but I am a worrier and there’s not much I can do to change this – trust me, I’ve tried.
Anyway, today was a good day and my review went smoothly. In fact, it went much better than I expected and I got some very welcome positive feedback. I’ve had a lovely afternoon as a result. I decided to treat myself to an hour alone with a book and a nice lunch in l’Gueuleton. It was delicious, as the food here usually is, and it was a very good use of my lunch break. Good job, l’Gueuleton.
This sums up how I feel today. Everything and everyone is making me feel meh.
We are hoping to move house soon. Our current home, which we love but is becoming a little too small for us, has a very open layout. We have a living and dining room and a tiny kitchen. I am dreaming of the day when two of us can be in the kitchen together without bumping into each other constantly. One thing we will have in our future home is a separate sitting room. I have already called this The Good Room and I cannot wait to sit in it, reading or watching television or something else, and its sole purpose being that of relaxation. I am dreaming of built in bookshelves, candles flickering and a sofa we can curl up on. I often scoffed at the idea of having The Good Room, which in many homes in decades past meant a musty room that was never used by the family, precious space was instead kept in near mint condition for occasions of importance. While I don’t see the sense in preserving valuable space for rare events only, having one room that doesn’t need to be constantly useful strikes me as a luxuriously pleasant notion.
Pancake Tuesday rolled around and as per tradition I chucked some flour, an egg and milk into a mixing bowl in unknown quantities, whisked like mad and left to sit while we ate dinner. I have a pan I love from Ikea and it has done a fair job of pancake cooking thus far but today it didn’t do an awesome job. So I have decided I am in need of a crepe pan. Yes, we use the terms “pancake” and “crepe” interchangeably in our house. I very occasionally make thicker style American pancakes, but we have decided the crepe style is what we prefer. We also realised maple syrup does not keep that long once you open the bottle (lovely new microsystem alerted us to this slightly gross fact) so enjoy your syrup in a timely manner. I see Ikea does do a crepe pan but I am going to do a bit of homework because I have learned over the years that sometimes it is more of a bargain to spend money on the more expensive item that doesn’t need to be replaced every so often than to buy something cheap in a hurry.
Not related at all to this post is the fact that I finally got around to reading Fatherland by Robert Harris. It is an utterly ridiculous, but compelling and readable, page turner that I finished quickly during my commute in the mornings and evenings. My reading time is a significant orchid and I plan on making more use of it in the months to come.
I had a friend call over for lunch today and for pudding I had planned to make … a pudding. Nigella’s chocolate pudding from her Christmas recipe book, to be exact. It is a tried and true recipe for me and never fails to impress. It also has the major advantage of being easy as pie to make. I completely forgot about the sauce though, and left it too late to run out and buy the dark and milk chocolate. So I looked at what I had, and compounded an improvised caramel sauce. It was, if I may blow my own trumpet, delicious. In fact, it was so delicious I won’t make it too often because if I do I’ll eat too much of it and, as a consequence, get heartily sick of it and never make it again. So in the interest of self-interest this will be an occasional treat. A good lot of caster sugar, a few tablespoons of water, bring to a boil, throw in some butter and cream, remove from heat and whisk like billy-o. I followed this recipe very loosely but my quantities were wildly different. I think the more cream the better. And unsalted butter is what I always have to hand so that’s what I used.
I decided to stay on the dry in January. I am most definitely not giving up alcohol altogether but I had noticed that our weekend bottle of wine habit was spreading to Fridays and Sundays and this made me a little uncomfortable. So I took an all or nothing approach and stayed away from all alcohol for the entire month. It was easier than I thought and there were only a handful of times when I really felt a glass or wine or a gin and tonic would have really hit the spot. Lesson learned: if I want to, I can give up alcohol and I can enjoy nights out without drinking. It was actually rather nice to be able to get into the car and drive home in comfort after a night out.
One resolution for this year was to start this blog. I’m pretty happy with my posting schedule, that is, no schedule at all, but I have learned that I need to make time for posting. And that I need to jazz this blog up a bit with some pictures or something. Lesson learned: even my fantastic writing and witty commentary needs something visual to help things along.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a fan of the Marie Kondo approach to tidying and decluttering. This is an ongoing process for me, but following her plan has completely changed how I shop and why I shop. I would probably hoard a lot more if I allowed myself to and this wouldn’t be good for me. I really felt the benefit of the Konmari philosophy when browsing in shops during the Christmas sales. After a few hours of looking at not-quite-right clothes that sparked no joy, I took myself off to a hairdressers and instead had a divine blowdry that sparked large amounts of joy and put me in a great mood. Lesson learned: thinking more carefully about my consumption and shopping habits is time well spent.
I still mourn the loss of my favourite restaurant. I can’t help it, I really miss this place. Lesson learned: you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. So enjoy it while you can.