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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Books vs apps...

You may (or may not) have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here in Golden Seed Land. That's because I've been busy teaching one family member to read and spending seemingly endless hours setting up iPods and Kindles for the other two. It's been an interesting time caught between an old-fashioned school reader and navigating the e-reader world (which has so far failed to excite much enthusiasm!).

Do you remember a time when you couldn't read? I must say I really don't and I can't imagine looking at a page of English words and not being able to interpret their meaning. Ours is a reading family. We live in a house with books in every room and spend many hours a week reading, visiting bookshops and thinking and talking about books so you can imagine my excitement when the jumbled letters on the page suddenly started to make sense and Henry started reading.

Henry's favourite book to read is Book 1 of the Victorian School Reader (pictured above) which was used by all Victorian children from 1928 to 1950. It's not like we don't have any other books to read but there is something about the way the story builds with a mixture of familiar and new words that both Henry and Isabella have found irrestistable.

Sure you can teach your kids to read with any number of apps on an iPad but for me it just wouldn't be the same (KJ Dellantonia seems to get what I mean here and I wonder if the Silicon Valley moguls sending their kids to no-computer Waldorf schools do too). I love books as things as much as for what they contain and I want my kids to know about dust-covers, endpapers and fontispieces. That's why I love the idea of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Imagine getting a free book in the mail (personally addressed to you not your mum or dad) every month from birth until you turn 5 - bliss!

Obviously, we're aiming for the best of both worlds here. Isabella loves her new iPod Touch (which she saved for two years to buy) but even though she knows she can download books onto it she hasn't shown any interest in doing so and far from taking up reading time she has read more books in the past couple of weeks than ever before (thank you Roald Dahl , Jeff Kinney and Megan MacDonald.) Tom's Kindle, however, lies idle and yesterday we bought 6 new books between us so we're not there yet!

How about you? Book, e-reader, both or neither?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My new kitchen...

'On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it'.

(E.B White)

Welcome to my new kitchen! It's not quite finished as you can see (still needs painting and a bit of decorating) but I couldn't be happier with it especially the way the new bamboo floor contrasts with the all-white cabinetry and the way the oven is given prominence by doing away with any overhead cupboards. I'm not so convinced about my choice of a smaller pantry (what was I thinking?) as I didn't realise just how much room you lose with those nifty slide out shelves. Still, it has led to some pretty ruthless culling (way past its use-by-date fish sauce anyone?) which can't be a bad thing.

One of the things that used to really depress me about our kitchen was the view from the front door. You'd open the door ans see a blank paling fence out the window and a freestanding dishwasher with a basket on top that we used to put recycling in. You then had to shimmy past that dishwasher to get to the toilet (before we closed off the doorway as part of the bathroom renovation). All most unsatisfactory!

Now I see this when I come in the front door at night...

So much more satisfactory! Some of the best changes have been small ones . The view out the window is so much more welcoming now that it includes a burst of colour from a hanging basket and some little red window boxes. The window boxes are full of my favourite herbs which means I don't have to go out into the backyard in the dark anymore to pick those essential last minute herbs. I also love my new sink and tap (really!). Again it's not a big thing but the previous one had hot and a cold twist taps which always seemed to end up covered in cake batter or schnitzel crumbs especially when cooking with the kids. It also had a fixed faucet so you couldn't swing it out of the way when you were washing up (many a plate met its maker after accidently colliding with that damn faucet!). Now we have a mixer tap with a flick control and a double sink with strainer plugs and it's amazing how much more streamlined that little detail makes things.

I feel slightly embrassed about the size of my enormous new oven (900mm) in such a small kitchen but it's so much more efficient than the old one (so much so that I've already burnt my first batch of biscuits!) and I figure if you love cooking as much as I do (and increasingly the kids too) it's worth the investment.

There's still plenty of room for improvement - I haven't worked out where to put the recycling station yet and we have a space on one wall for a nice dresser/ sideboard or bookcase but for now I'm just going to enjoy getting to know my new oven and using up all that new bench space...