Sunday, May 22, 2016

Living on Lentils

I've been on a bit of an economy drive this week, waiting for payday which seemed as though it might never arrive.  From time to time when in this frugal frame of mind I'm gripped by the desire to go through all the obscure items in the pantry and use them up before they're past their "best by" date and this time it was poor old lentils which came under my scrutiny.  Sometimes this urge to use up all the odds and ends can result in some strange and extraordinary combinations but this week it's been a pretty happy outcome, apart from being rather lentil heavy.  About two months ago I had the most delicious Israeli couscous salad, courtesy of Lady Raglan's sister, and begged the recipe from her. For a couple of weeks I pretty much lived on this salad (the recipe for which I will post because I feel sure I'm not alone in finding it delicious) but this week it was lentil salad which was the store cupboard staple, and then of course good old lentil dahl.

The most exciting thing to happen during the working week was that I solved a mystery which had been bothering me from time to time.  On my walk to work in the mornings I could sometimes detect the most foul stink and I used to wonder whether a bird or some other small creature had died nearby and was moldering away undetected.  One morning I noticed a most strange looking red star shaped flower and thought it must have fallen from a nearby tree, but on closer inspection it was actually growing up from the mulch around it.  I remembered an app I had heard reviewed on dear old National Radio (or whatever it calls itself these days), iNaturalist, which I had installed on my phone.  I sent a photo of the weird red object off to iNaturalist and was thrilled to have my mystery object identified.

It turned out to be an anemone stinkhorn fungus (Aseroe rubra), and surprise surprise, "recognisable for its foul odour of carrion and its sea anemone shape when mature".  The description also mentioned that it is covered in brownish slime, and attracts flies which spread its spores.  I was so pleased to have my mystery finally solved and looking more closely at my photo I can see the brown slime. (repulsive but strangely fascinating all the same.)  I'll make sure I use that clever little app at every possible opportunity in future and I think it's a brilliant help for anybody who walks in our bush or even through urban environments.

It was great to be back at Shoestring Cottage this weekend after a weekend away and I had all my treasures from last week to put in place.  The bridge picture which Mr Shoestring found so attractive went happily in place with the two others, so now it's officially a collection.

Just excuse the fact that the photo is skew whiff and imagine them all sitting horizontal and you'll get the general idea. 

And the art deco lady (she would have to be very early art deco, admittedly, possibly a bit early to be called art deco really) looks very happy with her land girl sister from a later generation and I'm thinking I might have to make a collection of lovely ladies for in my sewing room.  Mr Shoestring was very fond of her also and didn't agree completely with my decision to put her in my sewing room but he can't complain too much because there is very little space on the walls now for pictures.  

The royal visit glass has gone to live with a "Royalty" magazine and I feel they will be very happy together.  

The bird's nest fern which started off as a tiny baby has taken off so well indoors that it is almost too big for its place over the bath now and as it's still sending forth more new fronds I'm a bit uncertain as to what to do with it.  I fear I have created a monster, and it might need its own room to inhabit at this rate.  I daren't put it out in the garden because one frost would kill it off completely, which would be a shame after such strong growth this past few years, and the fact that at one stage after a period of neglect it was near death and made a miraculous recovery with a bit of time and the right environment.

In the garden everything is flourishing still.  Apparently there was torrential rain, thunderstorms and high winds at the cottage during the week and I was a bit apprehensive, thinking that all the glass and crystal sculptures might be smashed to a thousand smithereens around the place but they looked completely unperturbed and happily all in place still, so that was a relief.

 The succulents which were putting forth buds last time we were at the cottage must have survived the storm because they are all happily blossoming now 
 And each week I think we must surely have seen the latest rose of the season but yet another one was to be seen this weekend.
I feared that the air plants may have succumbed to the wind and cold but they too were looking happy
Inside I carried on with embellishing an old boiled wool jacket, and though it has a lot of bouquets strewn about its surface now I can't seem to stop,

and dragged out my button collection (thank you Mrs Peaceable for topping it up for me recently) and old pieces of floral linen, wondering if I could squeeze a few more bits and pieces onto the background wool.

The other thing which kept me happily occupied was my dye pot.  Having had such fun dying bits of wool from old blankets to use in an applique quilt I've moved onto dying my clothes.  It is great fun, the only down side is that I can see at this rate I will have whole swathes of clothes in single colours. This weekend I was going to dye a skirt a lovely shade of Madonna blue instead of its more prosaic natural beige shade but in a fit of enthusiasm I tossed in a whole lot of other things including some sets of undies, and in future it might be better to show some restraint and just stick to the original plan.

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