Thursday, 27 June 2013

Been a long time since I rock and rolled

...been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely time

For 'rock and rolled', read 'blogged'. Or 'sat down and read a book' or 'sewed anything at all' or 'swam'. Because they're all like rock and roll, really. Except with more fabric and water and pictures of flowers.

It's a time of change in the Coffee House - for everyone except Littlest there's something major happening. I'm in my new job; Mr Coffee is preparing to become a student again; Eldest will soon be changing secondary schools. Everything is the same, but subtly not the same.

Tonight, for example, I'm still surprised that I don't have tomorrow off: my regular Friday at home was something I looked forward to, and then completely failed to use in any remotely productive or even relaxing way. It's a strange thing, but I'm doing better at some things than I ever did when I had a lot more time.

Packed lunches, for instance. Look at this masterpiece.

One thing they never tell you about bento boxes. (By 'they' I mean all the scary Pinterest pinners  who spend their waking hours making sandwiches into panda's heads or googly-eyed frogs or modelling sheep out of rice. And Alice.) Bento boxes mean you can make packed lunches for your children even if you didn't get round to actually shopping. You can make a bento box out of the scraps at the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips, a carrot, the scrapings of a tub of Philadelphia and a cherry tomato. If you have one cereal bar and two children, you can actually cut it in half, because bento things are meant to be little. Similarly with the one frozen tortilla wrap you found under a bag of sweetcorn. Once displayed in IKEA baking cups, even the three grapes at the bottom of the fruit bowl take on a new allure. I've halved a satsuma before now.

Also, gardening. I've got a lot better at that. (I started with a pretty low bar.) Though it seems that I have rather overcommitted my little raised vegetable bed.

I abandoned the 'growing from seed' malarkey this year. Life's too short to wait for carrots never to germinate. I bought tiny plants instead from the market and the The Average Cabbage, who delivered little trays of plants that actually went on to get bigger. My decision to grow things that I usually ate resulted in a coldframe almost entirely full of beetroot, which threatened to get out of hand. This recipe - though it reads like some kind of torture - is an absolutely brilliant way to eat beetroot leaves. (Who even knew you could eat beetroot leaves?)

Tonight I found a notebook from last year, which contained a list of things I had decided would make my life better. It had 'do yoga' and 'go swimming' and 'read books' and 'sort out all the digital photos'.  Below the list, STOP WASTING TIME was written in big red letters. I don't have time to waste anymore, but I never did all the things on the list even when I did. Now, the day just goes 'kids to school/ work/ pick kids up from school/ kids to bed/ sleep'. (My children take AN AGE to get to bed. AN AGE.) And though I still have far too much to do, I'm no longer blaming myself for not getting it done. Which, though it doesn't get the food shopping done, brings with it a certain kind of peace.


  1. "You can make a bento box out of the scraps at the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips"

    Oh God, I've been rumbled

    *hides behind ironing pile #2*

  2. LOVE the idea of the home-made Bento boxes, and I'm sure they are more likely to be consumed than boring sandwiches each day!

    I know what you mean about having spare time and wasting it....but it does depend what you mean by waste - now I'm retired I think nothing of starting the day with a bit of music playing and I have been found reading a book before lunchtime - a thing I never allowed myself to do before.

    I hope the family manages all the changes you are going through...but you know, that IS life, isn't it? When things stay the same too long we get into a rut - enjoy!

  3. How can you love someone you've never even met, or several people (I'll include Alice C)? I gave up reading blogs in favour of doing actual study/work/parenting for a few months and then I caught up with what all my favourites had been up to. Which was a treat to start with and then disheartening and depressing because they all had seemingly perfect lives and beautiful packed lunches... but there you were to save me and restore my faith in humankind and myself and make me laugh which is even better, really. I'm waffling but I don't get out much and I think I've eaten too many beetroot tops! Mel

  4. You have made me laugh, and also feel better about impending changes here. Maybe, after all, we will survive. Off to throw things in lunch boxes now.

  5. You make me wish I still had lunchboxes to make although I'm not sure the littleness of things would appeal to my men. I will show Katie your bento and maybe it will inspire her to take something other than a ham sandwich.

    Thanks for the Led Zeppelin too -always goes down well chez Quince.

  6. Ha, I'll have the perils of the packed lunch to figure out in another year. Little One starts nursery this September but only for mornings. As pretentious as I find the bento boxes with all the cookie-cutter sandwiches and things, I can see the advantage of the concept. Little bits of a variety of things seem more likely to all get eaten than the whole sandwich and a full bag of crisps that seem to be standard lunchbox fare. And of course, the crusts always get left anyway! Sigh.

    Looks like you planted in the same way I did too: cram it all in there! My carrots are far too close together really, lol.

  7. Must know more about Mr. Coffee's new academic career. And, the groundhog ate all of my lettuces.

  8. We have the same table cloth...
    I wrote a blog post about procrastinating today, I'm very good at it!

  9. I knew that beetroot leaves are edible, had them in South Carolina and yes, they are delicious. You can cook them because you grow them, I don't think they can be bought over here.

    You did make me laugh, as did Alice. I might have to go and look at your Pinterest boards; I thought I should never sign up for it but I succumbed in the end.

    It's good to see you posting.

  10. I am achieving nothing. I have no excuse except that large glass of wine...........

  11. Your bento box musings have inspired me to reconsider the random items in my fridge and no longer despair when I forget to buy rolls. I might skimp on presentation though considering what happens to the school bags after the lunch is packed.

  12. Getting things done is overrated. Let's start a movement. I'm sure there are lots of us sitting there looking at lists of things undone.
    The bento lunchbox is a triumph, and I'm so impressed by your veg plot. Mine is being decimated by slugs at the moment!

  13. Yup. I'm retired now, after being frantically busy teaching, and now... I still don't get done the things I've always wanted to. Trying to work out why not.


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