Saturday, April 09, 2016


When I moved to the farmhouse now five years ago, I decided, with Ed's hard encouragement, to adhere to minimalist principles. Downsize yet again. Buy (almost) nothing new. Make do.

And it worked. The furniture I had was just fine. True, the kitchen table that Ed threw in doesn't expand and large family meals have required an awkward combination of several tables strung together to look like ... several tables strung together and yes, for various showers and family celebrations some people were without comfy chairs to sit on, but basically, we've done well. Inspired by this success, I continue to downsize. My library collection is one fourth what it once was. Useless kitchen gadgets (sometimes but rarely missed) have done well on Craigslist. In the alternative, Goodwill is just 3.1 miles away.

I like to think we add flowers outside, but nothing inside.

Then along came Snowdrop.

The crib. Of course she needed a crib! And a high chair. And a changing table. And so on. I'd forgotten how children swallow stuff and they grow, too, so that yesterday's stuff is put aside for the next one, should there be a next one, and the next incarnation of stuff makes its way into the house.

I try to keep it simple. But the fact is, if a child spends a lot of time in your house, you'll want to make it a good place for her to be.

Today I announced that Snowdrop really will need a small table and a chair. Ed groans at this. Let's look at Craigslist! We do that. I don't like anything.
How about if I built her a picnic table with benches?
Nice of you, but it wont look good.
How about if you pull up a wee chair to the coffee table?

I laugh at that. Our so called coffee table is a whopping 24 by 24 inches. It serves as a resting place for Ed's computer, his stack of unread mail and a dining table come suppertime for the two of us. The image of fitting in Snowdrop's crayons and paper is kind of funny.

We rearrange things to make room for the wee table and chairs. The farmhouse is small, but it will take on another piece of "stuff." Ed shakes his head. Minimalism, diminished yet again! In exchange, I promise to give up another shelf of books and the walker Snowdrop rejected long ago.

We are determined to live an uncluttered life.

But this does not hold true for our great outdoors!

True, we wake up yet again to a hard frost -- near record lows -- but I know this will be the last one and so I walk out at sunrise with a bounce to my step.

Besides, it's going to be sunny! Sunshine makes up for the cold.

(From behind the willow...)

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(It's cold, Java... I know, Henny.)

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(This better be the last of it!)

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We eat breakfast in the sun room.

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And then we work outdoors. Oh, do we work! It never warms up beyond the upper thirties F (no more than 4C), but I shed everything, down to a light sweater.

We pull weeds, we unload wood chips and we expand (that's right, expand) the new flower bed that will run along the front of the property. For the first time, I will be growing plants that aren't just for us to see (all our other flower fields are within the farmette courtyard, so unless you come up to the end of our driveway, you would not know they are there).

I don't have many photos. It's dirty work and the camera deserves a respite inside. Just this one, of, well, nothing, really. Ed is rebuilding my bean trellis. I'm pulling weeds.

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But it's a magnificent day and Ed had to listen to me say more than once -- isn't life grand?
To which he'll respond -- Yes gorgeous, in the most non-emotive voice he can muster.

A brief coffee and cookie break (just at home)...

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And then we continue.

It's after six when we finally throw down the pitchfork, the rake, the clipping shears. And of course, this was the day I was to cook something other than the simple, the straightforward.

Well fine. Roll up the sleeves and get to it. With a special thanks to Yotam Ottolenghi, whose recipe (from Plenty More) I follow, using eggs from our girls.

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It's a Parmesan cauliflower cake...

(Before it goes in...)

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(After it comes out...)

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Late supper. Long day. Beautiful day. Flower beds waiting now. In all their readiness.


  1. We have the small table and chairs and guess what? The kids ALWAYS wanted to do "art" at the table like a "big" person!

    Sounds like you had a wonderful Saturday.

    1. They wanted to do art at the adult table? I suppose when she is older, she may want that as well. Right now it's way out of her reach of course. I tried to buy a table/chair set that would be comfortable also for booking "reading." And penguin play. She seems to like to make up stories and scenes with her animals in them...

    2. I should have added, yes, on the adult table. Sometimes my brain works faster than my typing. :) Often, when they were too little they would stand on the chairs or sit on the table itself to do art.

      I really do have a great kids' table and chair set which also folds up. I can send you pictures and then see when I'd be in Madison to get it to you if you'd want it. Alternatively, have you checked Farm and Fleet? Their items aren't always the prettiest, but they often have tables for kids.

    3. When I decide on something, I do not wait: expected delivery for my chosen set: Wednesday! :) (And looks, unfortunately, matter to me since in a small house, everything is visible. Meaning, I paid more than I could have at F&F.)

  2. Your parmesan cauliflower cake looks SO GOOD for a cozy supper - just the thing after a brisk day.

    1. Yep. With a nice rose wine -- which they finally reintroduced at the grocery store after I spent a whole winter telling them -- it's not just for spring/summer, you know!

  3. Wow! The green egger is prolific. Looks like the new girls have assimilated into the flock, more or less. I saw a pic on someone's facebook page with the most beautiful assortment of colorful eggs that I wanted to share with you, but it was a private page without a share button. I could have "stolen" it by convoluted means, but I got all ethical about it and didn't.

    1. Mostly one a day each, with an occasional skip. Then there is black Java who has yet to release a single egg! That girl is so mellow and centered -- we have no idea why she is not laying. But once she starts, we'll be trading eggs at the market for sure. Four per day = too many!

  4. Five years ago I bought a Kid Kraft wood table with 4 chairs on Amazon. It was easy to put together, and is still going strong in our youngest child's room. And when they finally outgrow it, I'll be able to sell it for a little something on Craiglist. I don't think it was too expensive (you know me) and I liked that it was delivered to my door. It has served us well for tea parties, art seasons, and other toddler/grade school fun.

    1. Mine wasn't too expensive and hopefully she and her future cousin/sib/playmate/penguin will love it to death!

  5. It is early warm here. we planted almost everything this weekend except zucchini, which, I fear, would frost easiest. I'm so glad you keep up this blog. A respite, always, from busy life. Hope this finds you well. I am.

    1. On the upside -- we get more sunshine than you do in the NW!

  6. I saw what you did there. You left out the comma between Ed's comment of "yes" (pause) "gorgeous."


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