Celebrate Clutter?

Did anyone else read Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter in the NY Times this weekend?

Dominique Browning says we should accept that we accumulate stuff, and to stop stressing about it and go ahead and treasure it. She seems to see minimalism as kind of a silly trend, mostly for millennials.

So, I like it when people tell me to stop stressing about something that to some degree does stress me out. And I find a cluttered house somewhat stressful. But I have to say, her article did not resonate with me.

She talks about owning stuff made by artisans, albeit sometimes grabbed at a garage sale for ten bucks. Though that sounds nice, it does not reflect the type of “stuff” that’s currently in my life. She also talks blithely about passing her stuff to her kids though she knows they don’t want it, and furthermore seems to think that it in some way, she is her stuff. Yikes?

She invites us to call her materialistic like it’s a bad thing. It’s OK to like your stuff, Ms. B! But don’t insist that your kids (or anyone else) must feel the same way about it.

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Um, Hello Friday!

I’m not sure how the long weekend translated into this week feeling much more than one day shorter.

We did a great job of going out and about this week. We went to a barbecue/birthday party. We bought meat for dinner, we went to the library, we bought a couple of packages of underwear (no, Amazon.com, I don’t really want little girl panties to arrive at my door that may or may not say “diva” on them), we put gas in the car. We watered the plants when it was still early and cool enough to not burn them. And we watered the seeds in the front yard with the hose. And while we were at it, we watered F and her friend. New favorite summer activity!

I’m also on a Pride and Prejudice bender. Which means: read the last few scenes, starting a little before Lady Catherine’s arrival. Then read the book from the beginning. Then fire up the A&E miniseries after F is in bed. Two words: Colin Firth.

Enjoy your weekend!

Strawberry Cake

Still trying to make good use of our farm-fresh strawberries, and reveling in having cleaned the house the day before, F and I made this strawberry cake. I didn’t do any recipe research or evaluation – it was just the first hit on Google.pink cake batter

It came out pretty nice despite a couple of challenges.

First, I had no cake flour. So I mixed in some cornstarch (with no fussy sifting, in part because I’m lazy and in part because I don’t own a sifter).

Then, I could not find my 9″ round cake pans. This turned out to be a good thing because I found this lovely pan substitution chart which will certainly come in handy again sometime. I ended up using a silicone bundt pan that I miraculously found kicking around the basement.accidental bundt

Lastly, I ran out of powdered sugar for the glaze, but only just. My solution here was to ignore it. It tasted phenomenal, but was very drippy, and my cake plate has no rim so there was some goo to wipe of the counter.

We had our local family over for dinner that night, and it was fun to surprise them with a random cake!

Basil!

My supermarket basil seems to be recovering and flourishing! I got an Italian basil and a Thai basil (because I’m obsessed with homemade pho).

Almost as soon as I brought it home a month or so ago, it flopped over and looked dreadful. I planted it in a container immediately, and it was so pathetic that I took a bunch of cuttings in hopes that at some point I’d have something to show for having purchased two basil plants.

basil cuttings

Then a bunch of leaves on the original spindly plants started turning kind of white. Powdery mildew, maybe? I plucked the icky leaves off, figuring that I’d end up just plucking all of the leaves off.

But the disease seems to have gone away, or is at least gone for now. And the plants are growing!

basil growing

Thinking about taking more cuttings and growing basil all over the place, because free plants and because yum.

New dinner clean-up strategy?

We had a nice dinner, and for a treat (to go with fresh strawberries) I made a Dutch Baby for dessert. Not the exact one I linked to, but it’s pretty close. And yes, it’s supposed to be breakfast, but it was quite fantastic after dinner too.

F was super excited about dessert. We told her we’d serve it up after we finished cleaning up dinner.

What we meant was clearing the table. But then I found myself washing up all the pots and pans, loading the dishwasher, etc. It didn’t take long at all, and I had the promise of dessert to keep me on task.

It was so nice to come back to the kitchen after dessert to a kitchen that was 90% cleaned up! This should become a more frequent strategy – bribing ourselves with dessert.

Strawberries

We drove out to a farm and picked strawberries!

It was a gorgeous day and there were plenty of ripe berries for the picking. Even though it was hot and sunny, the breeze and fluffy clouds helped keep us very comfortable. Plus I had packed an unreasonable amount of water.

Highly recommended outing for a 3.5 year old!

Seattle and the Swamp

Baby C and I were in Seattle, WA from Thursday through Monday night. I’d never been there before. Wow, gorgeous and lovely. I took hardly any pictures because I was just enjoying the experience so much.

We were there because one of my college friends got married. It was a lovely wedding to a great guy – yay!

Coming home from mild, sea-breezy Seattle to my muggy swamp of a home state (woo Maryland) was still wonderful, though. It’s home, and my people are here.