Sunday, December 17, 2017

Frugal Fun No. 15 - Friends, books and the garden

This has been a cool week for me. My dear friend, Angela, came up for a last minute trip to Auckland and spent a night at our house. Angela and I talk a lot but rarely get to hang out in person because she lives in the South Island and I live in the North. It was very special getting to spend time with her. She read bed-time stories to my kids and they were all enraptured.

I bought a stack of amazing books from the library's three-for-a-dollar pile this week. The highlight of the stack was this Atlas, which has already found its way into several of L's homeschooling lessons.

For read-aloud time with L this week, I've been working through Ballet Shoes, which is a very sweet book that was first published in 1936. I had never heard of it, but bought it from the Library earlier in the year and gave it to L for her birthday. We're both enjoying it immensely.

When the weather cools down in the evenings, I've been heading out into my garden to see how everything's growing, to pick strawberries and to water the new seedlings that are popping up. There's not a whole lot to do in there at the moment except wait, but I'm enjoying this time of anticipation all the same.

Today J picked our first ripe tomato and ate it. He said it tasted exactly like a tomato. I was surprised.

J is often out in the garden with me when I wander about, and one of the things we love to do is look for monarch butterfly caterpillars on our swan plants. Can you spot the fat one in the photo above?

When I was planning my garden last year, I dreamed of seeing butterflies fluttering about and deliberately planted several swan plants to make that happen. This year the swan plants have grown into large shrubs and now our garden is never without a butterfly. It makes my heart sing every time they flutter by and hasn't cost me anything beyond my initial seed purchase.

Bees also love my garden, especially the purple flowers like wisteria...

...and sage. I'm thankful for every bee I see.

Our garden also seems popular with this sweet little duck family, but I think that's more because they like the scraps of rice I throw out of my kitchen window.

I spent this evening collecting kale seeds from my garden. The paper bag above is full of seed pods that will hopefully dry out and split open, depositing their seeds at the bottom of the bag. This was my first time collecting kale seeds and I felt very connected to my garden as I went about harvesting the pods. I deliberately went barefoot as I worked, to ground myself on my land.

This garden used to be full of spinach, but that all went to seed in the hot weather so I pulled it out. The soil level in the garden had dropped right down, so I've been filling it with grass clippings and free mulch to make compost. I'm planning to dig in all the contents from my rotating compost bin this week and let the whole lot break down for a few months so that this garden is ready to plant out in autumn. It's a lot cheaper than buying store bought compost, but has the downside of putting this garden out of action for a few months.

I did a little bit more water blasting around the front of my house this week, cleaning the concrete path and driveway and water blasting the front fences. It looks so much nicer now, especially the concrete, but I haven't got any photos of it to share with you.

Yesterday my children all got to enjoy a bouncy castle at our neighbour's house, which my neighbour had hired for her son's birthday party. The party had finished so my kids bounced till they could bounce no more.

Our road is closed off to cars at the moment because of roadworks, so this evening the whole street filled up with kids on bikes and scooters, enjoying the freedom of biking on a road without fear of getting hit by a car. It was pretty magical seeing a street filled with children having fun, and I started picturing what society would be like if we didn't have cars. I think there would be a lot more community stuff going on, as people would actually see each other as they walked and biked about, instead of shutting themselves inside metal-walled cars.

Speaking of cars, I crashed mine this week. Another driver and I were both reversing out of 45 degree angle car-parks at the same time and his car must have been in my blind spot because I didn't see it until my corner hit his corner. That was unfortunate. Thank goodness for car insurance. I still have to pay excess on the repairs, but those aren't happening until sometime in January. I was pretty shaken up after the crash and have been feeling a lot less confident in my driving ever since. I think that's making me a worse driver too, because I'm over-thinking everything. Hopefully I'll get my confidence back soon.

What's your frugal fun news? I love getting inspired by other people's creativity and cleverness, so please do share your successes in the comments below.

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