Decluttering in Progress: Study

Finally I’m getting somewhere with decluttering our study! A few days ago I cleaned up my messy art supply cupboard. In that process I filled a bag with big bottles of old,  coloured wall paint and some other art stuff; this bag will go to church tomorrow for Sunday school.
Some old pairs of jeans that didn’t fit into my fabric box went into another bag, which I filled with other ugly old clothes from the “get rid of this” box in our study today and took it to a fabric recycling container. As this container is grouped together with other recycling containers I decided to finally get rid of an old scanner and an equally old pair of small computer loudspeakers (container for small electronical devices), as well as two bags of clear glass trash from the kitchen I had to take there anyway. So I walked up that hill with a load of trash and came home feeling much lighter.
In addition I put a “free stuff” shoebox of smaller random items on the outside window sill as I sometimes do.
Finally tonight I found someone from church who will take the bag of better clothes to a donation point by car.
Still a lot to get rid of before my birthday party!

Three cultures in one week.

Living in three different worlds, three cultures, all separated by nothing but half an hour of walking, three bus stops, a trainride to the other side of the city. European mainstream culture. Church. Capoeira.

Body image – objectification, purification, celebration. Make-up and diets, prudery and hiding, samba de roda and rejoicing in movement for its own sake.

Music – sex and money, worship and encouragement, community and fuelling the game.

Clothing – fashion, modesty, convenience.

So many other points, like cultural behaviour, that I can’t even begin to describe with just a few words. Language. Forming relationships. The view on history, politics, and globalisation. Sense of self.

I step in and out of cultures, I dress their way (more or less), I try to mold my ways of communicating to what is comfortable and acceptable for the people surrounding me at a given time. But in my heart, all three are present all the time. I’m more than the sum of the cultures and subcultures I’m part of. I’m still growing and learning to navigate this inner maze, deciding which paths to add to my map and which landmarks to reject for being misleading.

 

 

Creation of a retreat

Over the course of the weekend (which for me included headaches, panic-mode, and generally feeling stressed out and tired) I decided to convert the stuffed corner behind my desk into a place for contemplation/prayer/calm-down. I need a place without chaos, without technology, without distraction.

Basic ideas

  • the corner should feel airy, but separate form the surrounding space
  • keyword: sensory deprivation. I even joked about getting myself a huge cardboard box from the attic to climb into when the world is too full of sounds and visual input; but I decided to go with white and just keep it simple.
  • no additional purchases (in the beginning I had planned to get things from Ikea, bad me) – I want a place to get away from hoarded stuff, so buying new things would be counterproductive
  • working title of the project: “warrior’s retreat” – I want to become stronger in mind, soul, and body, while learning to relax, to focus, to relearn stillness and mindfulness, and to be angry or stressed out less often
  • I’d like to spend at least ten minutes each day in my tiny retreat and allow my mind to wander a little, maybe read a bit … ideal would be ten minutes in the morning plus ten minutes before going to bed, but I’ll take small steps for now

Current concept

  • I turned around my art supply shelf to add a third wall (not very high, but high enough for when sitting close to the floor, see next item) and to keep the area closer to the empty stretch of wall and away from my desk at the opposite wall
  • a surplus palette (left over from replacing our sofa with palettes and beanbag chairs) is stored in the attic and will become a slightly elevated, airy “floor” – we have a slight problems with cold drafts here and a bit of elevation will make it feel more like a proper separate sitting area while retaining the feeling of being close to the ground by sitting on a flat surface
  • to provide a softer ceiling and the illusion of a fourth wall I salvaged my old bed canopy aka cheap mosquito net from of the get-rid-of-this-stuff box (instead some other items ended up in that box) and hung it from the overhead wall shelf by digging up one of the adhesive hooks I had bought for the bathroom some time ago
  • our old sofa throw (something between off-white, beige, and pastel yellow) will become the first layer on top of the palette
  • an old woven rug (mostly red, white, and a little black) my mother gave me for my first apartment will be either folded as a cushion or just run across the whole palette, depends on what I like better in the end
  • one of the Ikea “Skurar” plant pots which had served as a candle holders on our wedding day will be repurposed to hold a pen, a small notepad, and maybe a feather plus some fragrance (e.g. a single star anise from my stash in the kitchen)
  • one or two books; currently I think I’ll put my study bible and a capoeira book inside
  • a glass tumbler of fresh, cold water
  • maybe one of our small white or grey metal lanterns (also wedding decoration) will be added for soothing light and to focus on to calm down

Do you have a place in your home for contemplation and/or calming down? I’d like to hear about it and maybe see pictures :)

First sourdough bread!

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Monday I prepared my first sourdough starter with rye flour. It lived on our bathroom heater, so the wild yeast multiplied like crazy and the sourdough was ready for a test run after four days – it was full of millions of tiny bubbles and the smell had turned from vinegar to freshly cut sour apples.

As recommended I added some normal baking yeast to this first use of my sourdough culture. Apart from that it contains nothing but flour, water, and some salt. I’m looking forward to slicing it tomorrow and eating some of it with butter and homegrown cress :)

The bread weighs more than one kilogramme! I need to find someone to help me eat this, as I won’t be able to eat all of it before the next baking day and our freezer compartment is really tiny (and we don’t own a toaster – I don’t like untoasted defrosted bread).

Next week I’ll try to make a bread without extra yeast. I’d also love to add some spelt flour – I prefer mixed bread over pure rye. Do I have to add yeast when I add flour other than the type I used for the starter?

First home-made bread of the year

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Because of a lot of stress (master’s thesis, family issues, and health problems) I haven’t had time and energy to bake my own bread this year so far. Today I felt motivated to get back to it – store-bought bread just doesn’t come with a nice crust, and I craved some ‘real’ food. This bread is a very simple one, made from spelt flour (1/2 whole grain, 1/2 white flour) with dry yeast, salt, and water. I added a little bit of baking powder for extra fluffiness and put a bowl of water with salt and herbs in the oven. Top and bottom are sprinkled with pestled flaxseed and amaranth (adding some crunch and nutrients).

One of these days I want to try my hands at sourdough.

The best thing about fresh bread (besides getting to choose the ingredients)? Eating the first, still warm slice with butter.

The Bottle Gourd Experiment, Day 1

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After two years of harvesting a handful of tiny carrots/kohlrabi/potatoes and bitter lettuce I decided to try something different in 2015: bottle gourds. The seeds arrived a few days ago; today I put three of them in some water to prepare them for germination. Tomorrow I’ll let them dry and plant them into some moist soil on Monday.

I have not yet decided whether I’ll try to keep them all inside our kitchen or whether I’ll get the courage to ask our landlords aka church people if I may use the handrail of the side entrance stairs as a ranking aid.  At the moment I’m thinking about keeping one or two inside and the other one or two outside next to the stairs. As I want them to produce nice, round calabashes they’ll need a ranking aid. So for the one(s) in the kitchen I’ll have to sacrifice the old loft-bed ladder I’m using to air (or store) once-worn but still clean outer wear like skirts in our small bedroom.  With some tweaking and pushing it should fit between the wall and the kitchen counter (the side with all the other plants) so the gourds will be able to grow next to the window. It’s just an east window, but our kitchen is pretty warm in summer and should provide the right climate!

As for a planter, I own a plastic basket which became jobless today (it used to be our waste paper receptacle, but we found a bigger cardboard box at the grocery store); lined with a plastic bag or something similar it should be a suitable home for at least one of the plants. For outside … there is a seemingly abandoned crate I might nick for that purpose.

Yay for bottle gourds! If this experiment succeeds it might make some people very happy. 180 days of waiting …

 

green kitchen: update

Remember last year’s post about my attempts to turn our kitchen into a greenhouse? I think it’s time for an update:

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One of my many hobbies: filling all kinds of old containers with green life. Mostly ivy, sempervivum, and some fern, aloe vera, moss, and a green plant I can’t name (but it multiplies on its own). I love ivy. And how adorable is the sempervivum in the little milk jug? Not sure yet what to do with the old tea kettle in the background  I found recently – use it to brew ginger tea, or plant ivy (or maybe lavender) inside?

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Ivy in a cracked glass pitcher we don’t use anymore as it leaks (so I just put already potted ivy inside instead of filling the pitcher itself with soil the way I’d have preferred to).

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As I said, this kind of plant multiplies. It starts to grow a “child” dangling from the mother plant, which you then put into water until it grows its own roots; then it can be potted and cut off. This little family lives on top of our fridge, next to the coffee making thing.