What a lovely month December was! Three weeks holiday helped to make it so and gave the opportunity to think about the monthly nine away from my city home and garden. On the last Friday in November we collected the keys to our little house in the country and camped in it that weekend. Then on the second weekend in December we returned, on holidays, and with plans to make the little house homely. While we had numerous trips back to Melbourne to catch up with friends and family over the Christmas period we accomplished much and loved being in our little house. So, to recap on December, I am joining in with Linda and others here.
Almost everyday while we were on holiday we ate mango, blueberries, yoghurt, nuts and seeds for lunch. It was delectable. I have never been fond of mangoes, so I am surprised how much I am enjoying them this season. Perhaps it is a particularly good year for mangoes? Anyway, I have also used them in a few different salads and am enjoying the taste and aroma of fresh mango. Of course, you would expect that a round up of December would include Christmas fare but the truth is, I didnt eat any of the traditional Christmas foods – apart from cassata, which is a tradition from my childhood – an icecream dessert for the kids who didnt like plum pudding. I still make it each year. Fresh prawns were a treat enjoyed in the park with family. Each time we returned to the city for an event, and went home, I picked lettuce leaves from my garden to take back to the country house. Sometimes there were ripe tomatoes as well but they are really only beginning to ripen now.
One day we plan to live in our little house in the country, so the three weeks that we were there felt like we were making inroads into a dream we have held for quite a while – that it was really going to become an eventuality. We spent the time, in a sense, preparing for our future, both near (when it will be a weekender) and distant (when we will live in it permanently). There has been lots of talk (and dreaming) and a little research into what we could and can do with this house. We washed windows and scrubbed the stove, bought a fridge, added some furniture and some window dressings. The house is not very energy efficient so that will be one of our first priorities.
Weeds, undergrowth, dead plants/grass were all removed from the yard. It took a few weeks to do and it filled up this massive bin. There are still plants that need to be removed from the block – hawthorn bushes in particular. The motivation for clearing away undergrowth was to remove any hiding places for snakes. We know they are around, and would hate our inquisitive little dog to get bitten. I did some research into a solar powered vibrating thing that is supposed to keep snakes away but after watching a youtube video of a snake catcher demonstrating that it didnt work, I figured I would save my money and do the best we could to make the yard less desirable to snakes.
This month I made sugar scrub from white sugar, coconut oil and essential oil. Really simple. I love the exfoliating, moisturizing effect it has and how good my skin feels after using it. I have been expecting ants to come and enjoy it too but so far they havent. Hopefully the essential oil deters them. I decided to put scrub into attractive containers and give it to all our neighbours for Christmas. I hope they will like using it.
I propagated a number of Pelargoniums several months ago and planted these to provide a spot of colour. Also, once an elderly woman with an amazing garden told me that she used Pelargoniums to make soil more friable and conducive for other plants. These hardy plants send their roots down into the hard soil. Once they were well grown they are removed and a more desirable plant is put in their place. My challenge is to find plants that will grow without attention, or watering, since I dont live there to nurture anything. Later this year we will plant some species that are indigenous to the area, which should grow well unattended but when I actually live in this house I want to have a lot of the garden providing food. I guess there might be some fruit trees that will grow without much attention. I am thinking a fig tree, at the very least. But perhaps even these need nurturing while they are young? Inside the house I have a sword fern in a self watering pot and lots of succulents.
This month my creating has gone mostly gone into making things for the house, though I did sew up some undies for myself – but I’m not showing you them! I made a cover for the sofa from beautiful dotty Nani Iro fabric. I hand stitched linen fabric into serviettes at night time while watching TV. I made placemats and covered a stone with a crocheted doiley for a doorstop.
In December I read My Year Without Matches by Claire Dunn. I couldnt wait to go to bed each night to discover more of what this amazing woman was up to. While there were physical challenges ( building a shelter, making fire, finding food) , it was the emotional journey Claire made that interested me most. Who are we without all the external structures that shape our lives and frequently define us? How do we connect with our inner wisdom in a way that it guides and sustains? I loved reading about Claire’s crafty pursuits and how satisfying it was to tan hide to make clothes, to weave grass baskets and make clay eating utensils. I was awed by her bravery – walking around barefoot in the dark. One night she woke during a nightmare to find a red bellied black snake poking and prodding the mosquito net she was inside. Since reading the book, I have found myself much more observant of the sounds that birds make.
I bought an IKEA doll and had a lot of fun making her a skirt, jacket, necklace and head scarf. She came wearing a t-shirt and undies. Here she is wrapped in cellophane, ready to be put under the Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre Christmas tree. I didnt think to take a photo before she was wrapped up, which was a bit of a pity. I hope some little girl is enjoying playing with her.
So much was enjoyed this month. Meals with friends and family. Morning walks. Satisfaction of tasks accomplished. One highlight was catching up with movies I had wanted to see when they were at the cinema and are now on DVD. The best two were Locke and Reaching for the Moon, but I also enjoyed Calvary, All is Lost, Begin Again (fabulous soundtrack!), The grand Budapest Hotel, Still Life, A Most Wanted Man and Kill Your Darlings. The BBC TV series The Honourable Woman was also definitely a highlight.