Archer & Archer.

I can’t actually remember how it first happened that I stumbled across Archer & Archer on Facebook, but I’m sure glad that I did. The Archers have been running this business for two years as of this week, so I thought I’d get around to pulling my finger out and writing this blog post slash love letter to Troy & Sarah (and Minnie, and Ollie).

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All wrapped up.

While they’re celebrating their second birthday, it’s been twenty-one months now since I officially became a customer of this unique store, where a handful of items are uploaded to Facebook and the first person to comment SOLD on each item gets to purchase it. It’s the thrill of the race, you know? Hitting refresh, judging very quickly whether the item is something you want and then whether the price is something you can agree with/afford and then typing SOLD! ENTER! And hoping you’re the first one there. Rejoicing when you are, despairing when you’re not. Taking your time to read through Troy’s oft-hilarious descriptions of the items. Scrolling through to see who gets what, taking note of familiar faces from months of sales battles, smiling when you see a friend or family member show up out of the blue and throw a SOLD on something.

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Little porcelain planter cat.

My first ever purchase, true to form, was a porcelain cat. Back then the sale was less stressful, less urgent. I strolled in, took a look around, pointed at the porcelain cat and said, Yes please. I’ll have that one. The cat is still with me, with a succulent planted in its back. It lives on top of a shelf under a window, sitting in a timber tray that also came from the Archers. On one of the shelves underneath is an amazing orange ice crusher. On the bookshelf opposite, a few different bits and pieces, including but not limited to a trio of fabulous glasses and a couple of duck men I thought I was going to have a conniption over.

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Herbaceous babes are GO!

Help, it turns out I can grow herbs.

Top L-R: coriander, dill, basil. Bottom L-R: chives, parsley, mint.

I don’t really know how it happened. I’m kidding, of course I know. I bought some herbs and I put them in pots and continued to water them and they’re all doing okay (except for Basil, but he’s got a story). So I guess what I mean to say is, this is unexpected because I’ve never kept herbs alive before. I’ve never kept much alive. I even managed to kill one of those lucky bamboo stalks that a coworker gave me a few years ago. Bamboo’s meant to be really hardy, right? Well, I killed it. I didn’t kill it on purpose, it just happened, because these things always happen to me.

So I’m actually at a bit of a loss with what to do with these herbs now that they’re thriving. I’ve never gotten past the “yay they’re planted I can’t wait until they thrive” stage to the “yay they’re thriving” stage. How do I look after thriving herbs!? Look at that parsley! That parsley is a monster and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it! Do I prune it back? Do I lop that enormous stalk off and re-pot it to make another parsley bush? Does that work? When I prune, do I prune it from the base? How do I identify older leaves vs newer leaves? SEE? THOSE ARE JUST MY QUESTIONS ABOUT PARSLEY, I STILL HAVE FIVE OTHER HERBS!

How it all began.

I didn’t start from seeds, of course. Anyone whose thumbs are on the opposite side of the colour wheel to green isn’t that stupid. I started a little big, particularly with the parsley, but that was the only parsley left and I wanted parsley. It’s a good garnish, I guess? My herb choices can all be classified under the heading “I GUESS?”. No, that’s not entirely true. Here’s what I chose, and why I chose it.

Parsley: good garnish, I guess? (I wasn’t lying about this one)
Mint: COCKTAILS! Ginuary is on the horizon, after all. STAY ALIVE UNTIL JANUARY, MINT!
Basil: THE GOD OF HERBS
Coriander: people either love you or hate you and BABY I LOVE YOU
Chives: Good soup topping, I guess?
Dill: Good with fish, right?

Those were literally the thoughts I had concerning those herbs when I bought them. Help. Help me. I can’t eat enough fish for all this dill. I don’t even know what to do with coriander. It smells amazing and tastes good in the Thai takeaway I have always procured but I am such a novice in the kitchen, help me. For the love of herbs, help me. I wasn’t even sure the coriander (I call her Corrie (I actually address my plant by a given name, yes)) was going to survive because the first week or so after I planted them it was very windy, and nowhere outside is safe. It got to the point where everything else seemed to be tolerating it but the coriander was horizontal.

AS YOU CAN SEE, THAT’S NO LONGER A PROBLEM.

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The coriander is a monster. Some of the leaves are starting to look different? I think it’s growing seeds? Coriander seeds are a thing, right? WHO KNEW I COULD GROW CORIANDER THIS WELL? (LOOK AT THAT FREAKING PARSLEY, SERIOUSLY.)

Basil’s story (he comes with a given name!) is that the first basil plant I bought was kinda stalky (you can see it in the second photo group in this post). It continued being stalky, and just kept climbing up and up and then flowered (I’ve since learnt enough to know to pinch those pretties off to keep the plant focused on making tasty leaves). I got frustrated with its stalkiness and so two Sundays ago I bought a shrubbier seedling from the farm gate market and did some repotting. Stalky still exists, but he’s planted into the retaining wall, and I’m trying to encourage my new little friend Basil to take wing. Why is it that the herb I could do the most with is the one that is being so difficult?

I’ve used almost all of the herbs so far, but in very rudimentary ways. I’ve thrown basil and parsley through some pasta dishes, and I’ve used the dill with (you’re never gonna guess) some baked salmon. I’ve occasionally plucked a mint leaf and carried it around and smiled and dreamed of all the uses I’m going to have for it in January. I haven’t used the chives yet because I haven’t made any soup, and that’s the only link my brain has between chives and food. I haven’t used the coriander yet because I just don’t know.

I don’t even know how long these last for. I just googled for the definition of “perennial” because I know that’s a word people use for plants (IT MEANS FOREVER! FOREVER HERBS!). Of course, I paid zero attention to what any of the labels for these herbs said because I guess I expected to have killed them by now. Sorry, herbs.

Shrubby Basil, aka “Sweety Baz”.

Help me, dear readers. Please share with me any ideas, or even specific recipes, for herb uses. Maybe even some suggestions for what herbs I should branch out to next, seeing as I seem to be A HERB-GROWING WIZARD. If you have any killer tips for looking after thriving herbs, those would also be welcomed.

Human company and fortnightly flowers.

This weekend was a real treat. I guess it all started when my neighbour caught me yelling at the clouds in disbelief on Friday, because to be honest, they were ridiculous.

Is that you, heaven?

Perhaps I didn’t need to be standing on my front doorstep and yelling, “CLOUDS! SHUT THE HELL UP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? YOU ARE NOT REAL! YOU ARE RIDICULOUS, CLOUDS! JUST SHUT UP!” and perhaps my neighbour was right to be looking a little confused when I finally realised she was within earshot, but she did a very fine job of taking it all with a grain of salt and waving hello. We’ve not properly met yet.

It was after that happened that I realised I needed some form of in-person social interaction, so I managed to bribe two new acquaintances into coming over for afternoon tea on Saturday. I’m kidding! I didn’t even have to bribe them! They invited themselves! Of course, my house was still almost empty because I am still waiting on my things to arrive from Brisbane (let’s talk backloads and movers in another post) but I did the best I could with what I could and I think I like my new little makeshift coffee table so much that I may just keep it as is.

Suitcases from Archer & Archer (facebook), wooden serving tray made by my grandad.

So I don’t actually have any photos of the lovely ladies that I kept company with on Saturday afternoon, but I’m hoping you’ll meet them in the future in any case. The important thing you need to know about Emma and Liz is that they are both crazy for cats, so we had a lot of cat things to talk about. We also talked about other things. It was a lovely afternoon, and I’m only sad that I didn’t see my neighbour hanging around outside her house at all to notice that I was keeping human company.

And aren’t those flowers beautiful? They’re my second batch of flowers. I’m going to try to keep up a habit of getting some new flowers every fortnight from the Farm Gate market, which I’ll tell you some more about in my next post. My mum bought the first bunch for me as a housewarming gift on our first market voyage; they were calla lilies and bluebells. This time around I got some leucadendrons, irises and… those droopy guys whose name I’ve forgotten. Sorry, droopy guys.

fortnightly flowers! and cat.

Flowers, Jellyfish, flowers, flowers.