Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tuesday's Time To (24th April)

Today I have been busy in the kitchen, reorganising things. It's surprising how just a few small changes can make such a big difference to how tidy and efficient the room seems! It was hard work - not just actually doing it, but trying to work out ways to use the small amount of storage space we have sensibly - but now I've got it all done, it looks great - and it's so much easier to find everything now! I keep opening cupboards and looking all around at the newly organised space we have, and feeling really satisfied and happy!

The kitchen is probably the room where we spend more time than anywhere else (other than our bedrooms at night but we are asleep then, so I guess that doesn't really count!). I've tried to make it cosy and welcoming without seeming cluttered or untidy, and I think I've succeeded. Well, we all seem to enjoy being in there, anyways! Me especially. It's where many of my happiest moments are spent each day! With that thought in mind, I decided to use Tuesday's Time To as an inspiration to share with you what's going on in the heart of our home today ...

A time to plant ... there is a bowl of cress seeds just planted on the windowsill - which will be used for a salad at the weekend - and for our birds to enjoy too! Cress has a pleasant, peppery taste that complements lots of other salad vegetables, and adds a nice crunch as well.

A time to heal ... in a decorated tin caddy in the cupboard next to the sink I keep my herbal teas. I say "my", but both the cubs enjoy them too! Herbal teas are very soothing and are especially good if you have a delicate stomach. They don't contain caffeine like regular tea, and don't need to be drunk with milk. Our favourites are blackberry and nettle, blueberry, apple and cinnamon, and peppermint. The very best peppermint tea I ever drank was produced by a company called Celestial Seasonings. Sadly you can no longer buy this particular blend in England, but there are other lovely ones to try. Papa Bear prefers his tea the regular way with milk and sugar, but regular tea can be good for you too - the tannins in it are said to protect against stomach upsets if it is drunk black, and it is usually less caffeinated than coffee (though not always!).

A time to laugh ... so many smiles and happy moments happen in our kitchen. As it's the room right next to the entrance to our wee apartment, oftentimes the kitchen is where special news first gets shared. The cubs bringing home good news about their college work, or a happy event they shared with friends, or Papa Bear telling us about a particularly challenging work project that he's excelled at, or a new job he's secured. It's also where we open our post, so we often get happy news that way as well! Last week we got a sweet magnet for the fridge sent to us by one of our lovely aunts along with two new books to read. It said "thinking of you and smiling. Some things never change". Ohhhh! That warmed our hearts and made us smile too!

A time to embrace ... of course lots of hugs happen in our kitchen! The best ones of all are when someone comes in from the cold, shivering, perhaps wet or frozen with snowflakes in their hair, and the best thing in the world then, is a hug to warm them up! Quickly followed by hot chocolate and marshmallows, and a warm cookie or muffin from Mama Bear's oven. The cubs still love my hugs and cookies - and they'll always be there for them too.

A time to keep ... when I was reorganising the kitchen, I was surprised at how little I actually needed to declutter. I do decluttering regularly, but I think I've managed to pare down what we have in our cupboards now to a reasonable minimum. It's very easy to get carried away with purchasing items (both food and non-food) for your kitchen without really seeing it as wasting money. Somehow because they're going to be used for a purpose such as preparing or serving a meal, the expense seems more justifiable than if that same money had been spent on, say, clothes, or a decorative item for your bedroom or living room. When I discovered I was unintentionally duplicating items like jars of spice and cupcake cases, I realised it was time to streamline my storecupboards! Of course, it's sensible to keep a stock of long shelf-life items that are used regularly like canned goods, seasonings and such, it's also wasteful to buy more than you need. I've learned the hard way - and check now on my stocks before I add items to the shopping list!

A time to sew ... although I enjoy it as much as knitting and crochet, I don't sew often - I need to do it in natural light, and I don't get much time during the winter and spring for this before it gets dark I can't see what I'm doing. By June or July I will have more evening so hopefully I shall actually get some of my projects started! A bird cage cover ... two new dresses ... some new headscarves ... cushion covers ... and now, today, I've added a new tablecloth and matching serviettes to that long list! Not to mention the wedding anniversary embroidery which is definitely not going to be done before our special day - next week. Eeek!

A time to speak ... I enjoy having the radio playing when I'm in the kitchen alone. We tune it to a news station which doesn't have adverts or music. But I've realised that it's also important to allow my family to have time to speak to me too, when they're in the kitchen with me. When the cubs were younger they would often come and share things with me that they wanted to tell me alone, when I was busy cooking or washing up. Then I would switch off the radio and let them talk to me undisturbed by interruptions. I love it when we are all together in the kitchen chattering at once as a meal is prepared. Sometimes I'll be at the sink rinsing salad vegetables, Little Bear will be at the worktop cutting them up with Cubby next to her, arranging them nicely in a bowl, and Papa Bear will be at the table checking out the newspaper as he unwinds from a hard day at work, and we will all be sharing our day's news together. It's noisy, but so friendly and cosy!

A time to love ... it's rumoured that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and certainly Papa Bear seems to love my cooking! In our culture, being able to cook is regarded as such a fundamental skill for a good wife that a slim man is still, even in the 21st century, considered to have made an unfortunate marriage -the assumption being that a well padded man, has a wife that cooks so well he can't resist her meals! A woman who can't cook is seen to be bringing shame on her husband and family, so girls are taught from an early age to be experts in the kitchen. I still can't make pastry as well as my own mam, but Little Bear can! She can also make her own pasta and bread, and can fry bacon and eggs to perfection. Her cheese sauce is never lumpy and her cakes always rise ... so I hope I've done a pretty good job! Of course, there's much more to being a good wife than being able to cook but it's definitely a valuable skill for any girl to acquire - and it's fun, too. Little Bear and I have shared some marvellous experiences along the way as I've taught her all that I know - that my mam taught me, and her mam taught her - and we make an excellent team in the kitchen now. That being said, Cubby Bear has also had an interest in cooking too, and I've never tried to discourage that. He really likes the creative, visual elements of cooking, and it's fun to see how inventive he can be. Cooking is so much more than just preparing food. It's about fellowship, creativity, generosity, nurturing and of course, most importantly, love.

A time of peace ... at the end of the day, before I go upstairs to bed, the very last thing I always do is to go into the kitchen and check that everything is tidy and neat. I switch all the sockets off, and make sure that the fridge and freezer doors are closed properly, and that the oven rings are all switched off safely too. I like to give the sink one last wipe down, and maybe a quick switch across the floor with my broom. And then in the peace of the heart of our home I stand back and sigh and smile and thank God for all that He has blessed us with - our small safe home, with a kitchen that is all my own, where I can prepare meals and serve them with love and a thankful heart to my precious family.