I miss sharing my current book and knitting progress on a Wednesday. It gave me that extra encouragement to do more. I’d like to carry on, but this time, I think, I’ll include progress in other long term craft projects, or even just life in general. Life doesn’t always serve up enough time in the week to add many knitted rows, or enough awake moments to read another chapter. Some weeks I want to sew or even grow something instead.
Here I go.
I’m going to kick off with my latest book. I have finished it. A few weeks ago, Briony shared a book she had been reading. From her description, I knew I’d like it, so I ordered a copy. The day The Blackout arrived, we had a power cut for a few hours in the evening (again), so I approached this book with even more interest.
The book starts as the electricity begins to go off all over Europe, but no-one knows why. The grid is interlinked across countries. As one area loses power, there is a ripple effect across all countries. Chaos. Traffic lights stop working and cars crash. Hospitals try to cope with more casualties, without the help of power. No water. No sanitation. No power to pump petrol from the underground tanks. Soon everything grinds to a halt. No food or medicine. People start to die.
I thought it was interesting how people went from helping each other, even strangers, to looking out for themselves. As resources diminished there were still pockets of support, such as a soup kitchen and the government departments in some countries struggling on, but there were plenty more that chose to wield a gun instead and seize power.
The failed attempts to bring the electricity back on line were interesting. There were parts in the plot that had holes (what really? You really didn’t think of that? Where are your procedures?), but some of those were necessary to make the story.
It made me think. How would I survive? Water would be our main problem. Over time, I think we’d have the skills and knowledge to survive as a family. I remember reading years ago, that if such a major permanent change happened, such as no electricity, it would be those that stuck together as a community, and shared skills, that would survive. I think that’s true. They advocated building communities in readiness, which seemed to be taking it a little far. I’d hate to eat my words on that one.
The book made me realise how much people rely on electricity. An eye opener. If you read this book, be prepared to add candles and extra canned food to your next shopping list. Maybe water too and a generator.
Thought I’d include the children’s books too. They’ve all read lots this holiday and the pile of read books is even bigger.
Nine year old has resumed ploughing through the Harry Potter series, he’s on number 5.
Twelve year old was desperate to read something less depressing, so I suggested the Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. One of my favourite books when I was her age. She loves it. I can’t remember the last time I saw her so engrossed in a book. There was a film based on the story, but the book is a million miles better than the film. In the sense that the book may once have been in the same room as the script writers.
Fourteen year old is flying through books. She’s finished this one now. Her sixth book this holiday. She is enjoying the uninterrupted time to read.
Last but by no means least, our bed time story book. We popped into the Oxfam bookshop today and picked up a copy of More About Paddington. I’ll be reading a chapter a night to the Youngest, before bed. Often the others will quietly turn up to listen too. There is something rather lovely about having a book read to you, last thing in the day. Especially such delightful stories.
No knitting progress. I’ve been working on my Dear Daughter quilt. Two more squares finished. They are waiting for letters to go with them, which in turn, is waiting for me to be inspired. Sometimes thinking of the right subject, that meets the Teens approval, can be challenging. I’m sure I’ll think of something. In the meantime, I’m on my third square, with three more to go and I’m finished.
In the kitchen
With the children on holiday, my role as chief chef has been called into play more. My usual lunch of grabbing a cheese and pickle toastie is not always enough for my growing brood. I’ve been making fruit muffins each afternoon and chopping up fruit to keep in the fridge, ready for the “I’m hungry” cry.
Another big hit is so simple. It’s an old favourite that tends to be forgotten during the colder months when the ingredients are out of season. I chop up tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and red onions, then top with parsley and fennel from the garden. The children love it. Even enough to discuss whether it would make a suitable breakfast.
The difference is the use of herbs. If I add chopped chives to the top of a dish of boiled potatoes, they disappear in a flash. Without chives, I can guarantee I’ll have left overs.
This summer, my herb collection is going to get a lot more care and attention.
In the garden
I’ve been busy potting up sweetcorn and cabbages. If all goes well, we should have enough sweetcorn for plenty of meals in the garden, and some left over to freeze. Cabbage is a more distant ambition. They will be helping to add fresh food over the hungry months, after Christmas, when not much else is in season. This is planning ahead. It feels way ahead.
A generous slice of life.
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Way back when…ok a few years ago…, I joined in a washcloth knit/crochetalong. The idea was to make as many as we could and cheer each other on. Exchanging patterns and inspirations.
I think most people were making cloths for washing dishes, but I took it to mean face flannels. So I made flannels. Lots of them. Perfect for grubby toddler faces, as it happened. We still have them. The flannels, not grubby toddler faces.
Roll on to the present time. The toddlers have indeed been replaced by teens and almost-teens. Taller, and an answer for everything, but more to the point, able to wash their own faces. Along the way, they have grown to love face wipes. Disposable face wipes. Not eco-friendly, but quick and easy to use in their morning routine.
This is not ideal.
The wipes are used once and then flung away to start their journey to the landfill, along with the packet that they arrived in. I have no idea how long it takes for them to breakdown. How long those one-use face wipes are hanging around. Probably worse is the packet they came in.
This has to change. Now.
The solution is obvious.
Step one – I need to stop buying the face wipes and ensure that the flannels are used instead. I’ve moved the flannel collection from the airing cupboard into the bathroom, in easy reach.
Step two – to talk to the children. They like the idea and they understand why we need to the change.
Step three – to set up a routine to wash the flannels. I need to swoop in, on a regular basis, and whisk the flannels off to the washing machine. This needs to be fine tuned. There needs to be a balance between how many times the flannels are used between machine washes, which has its own green issues. Phew. Nothing is simple.
Step four – to make some more flannels. I’ve dug out a length of bamboo towelling from my fabric stash. It is supersoft, but sheds little bits of thread like crazy. Hemming required.
First bamboo flannel is made. I have a feeling that the bamboo is going to be popular as it has a pure luxury feel to it. So soft when I was sewing it, I could barely feel it. Like silk. Who says that when you take the eco-friendly route, that you have to rough it?
I’ll make a few more over the next few days. I might add smaller, two-layered versions, that would be perfect to use with make-up remover, as well. I used one of the knitted cloths as a size guide, but seeing it makes me want to dig out more yarn and knit a few too.
So far, I’ve been operating the new regime for over a week and it’s working. Fresh flannels available and being used. No more disposable face wipes for this house. Although I may make an exception for holidays. Especially as the Teen is off overseas with the school soon. Best to take one step at a time, as far as change is concerned.
I am so pleased to be getting this one off my getting-greener list. Are you taking any steps to reduce the things you need to throw away?