Sunday, 23 May 2010

simple living at the weekend

our ingenious Mary Poppins style shade

We've been outside a lot this week, the weather's been gorgeous, and it's a shame not to take advantage when it could quite easily be cold and rainy tomorrow. This is my friend's garden, which I love - it's tiny, much smaller than ours, but it's so lush and welcoming, mirrors and old brick walls peeping out from behind the plants, all cosy and inviting. Can you see the shading system we rigged up today? This photo's been making me laugh all afternoon.

tea on the lawn

Saturday morning was our regular trip to the Women's Institute country market. This is a small market and cafe that runs in a scout hut for 3 hours each Saturday morning, filled with local and home made produce, cakes, jams, home grown plants, and all kinds of crafts, and it's just round the corner from our house. We're there most weeks, meeting friends and enjoying a small home made something.

Saturday morning at the country market

This Saturday's visit brought with it the prospect of a new adventure. You see, there was a notice up saying they're looking for new producers. And I kind of got chatting to the woman who was selling the cakes...

Now, before I go getting all overexcited, I should make it clear that I have absolutely no idea whether I'm capable of making anything that anyone else would want to buy. Heck, I don't even know whether I'm capable of making anything that would pass being inspected for quality by those women - they're seriously good.

(I should also point out that, much as I love baking, and much as I love eating what I bake, there tends to be a devil-may-care attitude towards both recipes and cleanliness in my kitchen that I wouldn't want inspected by anyone obsessed with hygiene, so I wouldn't be making cakes or anything food related...)

But I must confess to being just a teensy bit excited at the prospect, however unlikely, that I might be able to sell something I've made there.

What got me asking questions this morning though was thinking about diversity and resilience. I'm a great believer in diversity, in gardening as well as in life. Diversity in the garden means resilience to disease, and I reckon diversity in skills and work means resilience to the vagaries of the economy and job market.

I'm a great believer in the virtues of a patchwork lifestyle, and I've been practicing at mine for several years now. For the past three years, for example, I've been working on my PhD full time, working two days a week as a personal assistant to a disabled woman, working a few hours a week taking notes in lectures for students with hearing impairments, teaching undergraduates, and working on voluntary projects for our local Transitions group and the Permaculture Association. And that's on top of growing food in the garden, improving my sewing, making presents, and having a go at making my own clothes.

Not all of these things bring me an income, but they all bring experience and add skills, and they weave together like a patchwork quilt to make my life as full and as interesting as it is. And the value of doing lots of different things, a vital one of which is budgeting and spending less, is resilience.

I'm starting my new job next week, and even though it's only two days a week, it's rather different to anything I've done before, and I think it's going to take up a fair bit of my mental energy for a while. And, of course, there's still that pesky PhD to be getting on with, so I'm not going to be taking up my knitting needles to fill the stalls any time soon.

But I don't think it does any harm to be on the look out for new ways of doing things sometimes, being open to suggestion, and thinking about taking risks. It might well be that you can figure out how a skill you have might be a way of earning a little part of your income, even if it's only enough to pay for tea and cakes on a Saturday morning...


  1. Hi Jenni, I enjoyed your blog today, my first visit here. I found your link on Rhonda's down-to-earth blog :-)

    I would love to know how to make some of your scones and breads I see here. And your birthday sounds wonderful. My birthday was a few weeks ago and you can see my cake here. I also made it for my Mother:

    Next year I may do something like your Tea day!


  2. Hi Jenni- I too found your blog from Rhonda's site.

    Your afternoon at your friend's garden looks absolutely perfect! I could use some of that relaxation right now!

    Anyway, I wanted to share with you a blog that I've been working on. It's called Maria's Country Kitchen, It's a blog about simple living- home cooking and organic gardening, and often has great conversation topics.

    If you're interested, take a visit and look around. If you're on Facebook, check out her page (link to the left on her site) and join the discussion going on there!

    Take care!

  3. Thanks to all three of you!

    Debi, your strawberry cake looks just beautiful. And as for my bread and scones, they mostly start out as recipes from old cook books (like the BeRo flour book!), and mutate to include whatever ingredients happen to be in the cupboard at the time. Next time I make something unusual though, I'll think to share a recipe.

    Dana, I popped over to Marie's Country Kitchen, she sounds like a fascinating woman! I'm looking forward to having a proper read.

    Take care