The little things are infinitely the most important (Arthur Conan Doyle).
In the face of bone aching fatigue last week, I have found lots of pleasure in tiny achievements.
Like this embroidered cushion I found at Safari. In the background is my fiddle leaf fig tree, which almost died when I was in hospital in January because no one thought to give it the thimble full of water it needs to survive each week. I am slowly nursing it back to health but it is still too straggly. Such a shame because it had a beautiful full shape when I first bought it.
Pepper the Burmese cat managed to knock over this (Burmese!) statue we have in the front hall. Of course the Burmese army had already taken care of her head, feet and arms (the statue I mean not the cat). But her leg broke in two. I fixed it with Kwik Grip or something equally unmentionable. I know that is not the correct way to mend supposedly ancient Asian artefacts but there you have it. You can barely see the mend line.
I don't mind being called Princess Jane by my daughter. Note the little copyright symbol. It is not easy to explain the concept of copyright to an 8 year old but I think we got there. And now her intellectual property is protected!
Oh Scanlan & Theodore how I love thee. And your grey cardigans. No I don't need another to add to the collection. But it called my name and its siren song was answered.
Australian candle with Liberty-esque wrapping. It's true I bought it mostly for the presentation. Very superficial I know. It smells nice but I still think Americans (think Tocca, Voluspa) make the best candles.
Can we talk about Gwyneth? I almost felt a bit ashamed buying this book and my husband teased me for a good five minutes. I am completely absolutely anti celebrity chefs. I don't even watch Master Chef which is practically a crime in Australia. I have no celebrity chef books. I loathe Gordon Ramsay. I liked Nigella when she was thin and wrote for UK Vogue in the early 1990s. I still love her books but only because I was an early adopter and she writes so well.
And Gwyneth herself is so multi talented, with her unusually named children, not very good interior design taste (at least that is what I think - check out these pics of her NY apartment), very nice Hampton's kitchen, okay singing voice, macrobiotic passions, kind of saccharine website and wardrobe to die for. She's so earnest. And that can be annoying.
But this book really resonated with me. There are a few reasons for this.
First, she speaks authentically of her love for her father (who died several years ago from complications of throat cancer) and her naive belief that he could be cured if he changed his diet. (As an aside I have thought many times since my diagnosis whether my diet could be a cause. I think I eat
Second, she really wants her children to eat well, cook with her, and to share magical times around the table. This too is what I want for my children. And I am at the stage where my son won't eat green or slightly green tinged things and my daughter won't eat most butter or dairy products. So I am desperate to cook them things they will eat with enthusiasm. And this notion of hiding the good items in what you cook for children is weird. I want them to know what they are eating and come to love it naturally.
Third, this book made me want to cook and eat. Surely there can be no higher recommendation? These days of course we can get any recipe we want for free. So why buy a cookbook? I look for a way of viewing cooking which I can relate to. Presumably if you enjoy cooking one or two of a favourite cookbook writer's recipes, you will enjoy cooking more. That is why our Marcella Hazan cookbooks are falling apart through overuse.
Over the weekend I cooked the following from this book: kale crisps, cheesy stuffed burgers, duck burgers, macaroni cheese (which she makes with mascarpone and Parmesan), oatmeal and raisin cookies (no butter and no eggs), white bean soup with cheesey croutons, zucchini with pasta and berries with caramelised cream. All the recipes worked well, and the children loved them all.
This is not a macrobiotic book by any means. There is a lot of cheese and dairy and eggs and pancakes. There are also some nice zen meals like soba noodles and savoury rice bowl.
Finally, I have ticked a few book purchases off the to-do list.
Two books for my husband's birthday which always must be history although unfortunately Mr Fitzsimons is a journalist which may make the history a bit 'chatty and accessible' which my husband does not like at all. Oh well.
And the new Geraldine Brooks book set in Martha's Vineyard in the 1660s. If you have not already, please read her earlier books - Year of Wonders (set in plague torn England) and March (Dr March from Little Women's experiences in the Civil War) are both completely brilliant.
And truly finally, some toast with avocado, fetta, mint and olive oil has been giving me much comfort lately.
I am so boring that I realise as typing this that I have already done an avocado on toast post. But I love it so much.
In fact I think I could easily find enough posts to run a 'Things on Toast' blog for a good couple of years (other ideas for alternative blogs - Dollshouses (but that might attract some weirdos) or Celebrities with No Interior Design Taste).
Weird Chemo Side Effect No 4: my eyebrows are definitely thinning out. I hope to hold on to them for the next 6 weeks. I have probably in the past said something stupid like I will stay in my bedroom for the duration if I lose my eyebrows. However, now it is potentially happening, I just don't care. On the bright side, it makes me look just that little bit more like Gwyneth.