So I’m going to do this as three parts: a general update, a cooking update for VeganMoFo and a bookish update for my lovely fellow bookfiends. :)
In typically chaotic fashion my ex finally managed to shift the last of his things last Sunday. After a month of shuffling boxes and odd outsized items from room to room and thirteen loadings of his parents’ cars spread out randomly over the weeks, the house we shared (and I am staying in) was finally clear of all his stuff. I’m not going to lie… it was extraordinarily wonderful to put his returned keys in a drawer and really, truly survey this house that I moved into in the summer of 2010 but only fell in love *this* summer. So much of my stuff has been in boxes and tucked away in cupboards that it feels like I only just moved in here myself with all the unpacking I’ve done this week!
I should explain that this starry-eyed wonder is largely down to me having been a lifelong nomad. Living out of luggage and hotel rooms when I travelled with work, purging my books when they threatened to take over my bedroom in a shared house, renting flats and rooms with lovers. To suddenly have a two bedroom house, six bookcases, a gorgeous kitchen and a very relaxed landlord who’s fine with my cat staying is something I feel rather giddy about.
This morning was a landmark for me, in fact. I have now lived here at No. 4 for longer than anywhere since I was 16 years old. I have stubbornly resisted putting down roots for half my life but I’m delighted to have this solid base for whatever adventures the future holds for me.
Advance warning: there will definitely be another 101 goals in 2014. :)
Here’s how this shift is affecting my reading and my cooking though:
On Sunday I scrubbed every inch of my big kitchen. On Monday I went through every cupboard and drawer and donated an entire box of stuff to my local charity shop. The slow cooker I’ve not used in three years, the random gadgets I didn’t even remember buying, plastic plates bought for camping but replaced by decent enamel ones. I took a huge bag of miscellaneous glass jars and bottles to the local recycling point, re-stacked my pantry, filled and labelled up new spice jars. And damn, it felt SO GOOD. The kitchen is my favourite room in this house but for so long it has been neglected and abused that it felt amazing to fully claim it and set it up properly for the future. It also felt pretty tiring. :)
I’m back on the ‘MoFo wagon again now though after a week of cleaning and making lots of comfort food in the evening – mushroom satay, curried cauliflower and chickpea soup, the chocolate cake adapted from the Moosewood archive by A Bug And A Fish. Something about all that dust, clutter clearing and binning rubbish just made me crave old favourites rather than dig into new recipes and experiment. I hadn’t really expected it and wasn’t sure how interesting it would be to read about for MoFoers, everything was very tasty but not particularly photogenic with all the autumn colouring! This week I am ready to start the culinary adventures again. I have a huge tin of mango pulp I bought on a whim and have been wondering what to do with. I’ve got a box of pearled spelt to make risotto with for the first time. I want to show you my kitchen diary and recipe book and of course, I plan to show you around my revamped kitchen as I promised back at the start of ‘MoFo. I’m going to aim for a post every other day for the rest of the month but I plan to keep going with regular updates once September is over. I have no excuses now with my spangly, well-stocked kitchen. :)
Between washing floors and ceilings and hoovering every square inch of carpet, I have been re-stacking bookcases. :)
You see, I now have five full length bookcases and two half size cases. Considering I only owned the half size cases and some crates when I moved in you can see how good a customer I have been to IKEA in the last couple of years… and how many books I’ve bought since my three year book buying ban.
I’ve now turned the second bedroom into a well, library, effectively. I have four full sized cases in there holding my female authored fiction, my male authored fiction, my history non-fiction and the last case is split between books about books and travel non-fiction. I’d put more bookcases in there but there’s light fittings on the walls… ;)
Meanwhile in my bedroom I have a full length case of what I plan to read soon (a proper TBR stack for the first time ever!), my essay collections (I read an essay a day still) and short story collections. Downstairs in the living room is a half size case of cookery books and maps for going walking.
I still can’t quite get used to having specific shelves, rather than specific boxes, for particular topics or authors. For the first time ever I can honestly lay hands on any of the *cough*1200*cough* books I own without having to unpack one or more heavy crates of books. I feel insanely lucky to have the space and shelving for them all and well, I’ve been reading every second I’ve not been cleaning, working or sleeping. Seeing all these fabulous books around me and feeling that buzz I got when I bought them weeks or months ago has spurred me on to finally kick that reading slump for good and read like the wind.
However, I confess I am still slogging through To The Lighthouse. Now that I have given up the TV I am finding it a bit easier to contemplate Woolf’s long and oblique sentences but it just isn’t flowing for me. At just ten pages a day it is much easier than trying to gulp the thing whole though and leaves plenty of time for whirling about, a dozen other books in my arms… ;)
Back to normal posting this week and no more upheavals. I’ll take some photos of my cases and show you around my stacks(!) this week.