2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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Settled Sunday

IMG_1883Oh, it’s been one of those weeks. Lots and lots of busyness, but which didn’t really feel like it was moving me forwards in any discernible way. Combined with the sleepless nights I get when I know I’m overstressed (regular 3am waking: one of the first signs I need to chill out) I was so ready for the weekend. We’ve had some beautiful weather that made you just want to lounge about.

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It has been lovely – no major activities, some pottering in the garden, running, knitting, eating delicious food (my other half’s chocolate tiffin below – will share the recipe when have a bit more energy), reading in the sunshine, strolling in the dunes.

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Got a long train journey down south tomorrow – four hours each way of uninterrupted thinking time. Looking forward to it. Wishing you all a relaxing and peaceful weekend.


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Making scones while the sun shines

Beautiful blue skies here today and seemed like a perfect opportunity to get the patio chairs out one last time this year. Which of course demands afternoon tea of some kind…and setting the table. Flowers are essential:

IMG_1866Something to eat is the next thing, which led me to have another bash at making scones. I used this recipe, but used semi skimmed milk instead of buttermilk, substituted 5g of the SR flour with baking powder for a better rise and added 25g sultanas as I like fruit in my scones. I also warmed the milk just slightly before mixing it in.

IMG_1870Very pleased out how they turned out looks wise – much better risen than my usual attempts. But of course you can’t tell anything till the taste test…so we carried this out as soon as R got back from his bike ride.

IMG_1872I’m happy to report that they weren’t just the best scones I’ve ever made, but some of the best I’ve ever eaten, anywhere – recipe written down right away to make sure I don’t lose it!

 


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Productive Day

We had our regular blackberrying outing again this morning while the sun was putting in a brief appearance and will be heading to the kitchen shortly to get some crumble on.

IMG_1856It really is the season of berries – saw a blackbird this morning with his beak crammed full of yew berries:

IMG_1844I’ll be surprised if there are any of these left in the next few days. Oddly, the rose hips seem to stay on all winter – they look so attractive you’d think the birds would go straight for them, but not round here.

IMG_1846Had a go at making tomato relish this afternoon as the rain started, it was a Chantelle Grady recipe from the first edition of Simple Things magazine published last year. I’m not really sure how relish differs from chutney – I’m guessing less sugar, less boiling and therefore less keeping time – but it was so good it won’t be around long, trust me. This (tomatoes, apples, garlic, onion, vinegar, mustard, thyme, garam masala)…

IMG_1853 …turned into this after about 90 mins cooking.

IMG_1860We had it for tea with the courgette and potato fritters also featured in the same recipe – they were like a very decadent sort of bubble and squeak, using mashed potato mixed with grated courgette/egg/flour and an incredible amount of parmesan which, let’s face it, is never a bad idea, providing you don’t need to move again for the rest of the evening. Slight pause before that crumble, I think.


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The warm satisfaction of completion…

Yay! I finally finished my knitted socks, after a couple of hours at knit group this morning and another few this afternoon. And as it was also really cold, I got the ultimate satisfaction of wearing my socks the minute they were finished.

IMG_1836It was only when I went to record their completion on the fantastic online knitting database, Ravelry, that I realised it has taken me 51 weeks to finish them! This is definitely the slowest pair of socks I’ve ever made – I can normally polish a pair off easily in one month. I think I’d been delaying finishing them as I thought it was actually going to take much longer than it did – soon as I got started it wasn’t bad at all. It was the same this week when I blitzed my home office. The piles of books, papers and everything else had been bugging me for months, but once I got started it actually only took about 20 minutes a day for a week to get it all beautifully clear (and it was during the aforementioned clearance that I unearthed the above unfinished socks. Ahem. )

Which makes me wonder what else I’m putting off, thinking that it’ll take ages when that’s just not the case. Something to ponder maybe…

 


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Good Things About Autumn No. 2

Grey dark day outside with drizzle – but lots of bright highlights nevertheless:

1. Managed to complete the final day’s run of my Week 1 running plan – after hurting my knee running in June I’ve not done any for months and it feels good to be building up distances again. I really hate running in the heat anyway – so autumn seemed a perfect time to pick this habit up again.

2. Home made nectarine, vanilla and sour cream muffins mid morning, rustled up by my other half while I was working, served with a cafetiere of strong coffee – honestly, this has to be my perfect coffee break!

IMG_1834Just half quantities of the cake I made last weekend replacing the lemon zest with 1tsp vanilla extract and 1 chopped nectarine instead of the blackberries, cooked for half the time. They were phenomenally good when warm!

3. Making plans that don’t need the weather to be great – knitting group tomorrow morning followed by a trip to a new art exhibition opening in town. Cake and coffee might also be involved…what? It’s the weekend after all 🙂


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New berries, new growth, new recipe

Lords and Ladies, Cuckoo Pint, Jack in the Pulpit, Wild Arum – call it what you will, its berries are pretty spectacular just now. They’ll be gone in a  couple of days – the blackbirds can’t resist them – but for now they’re lighting up a small corner of the garden.

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The raspberry is also sending up the thorniest new stems I’ve ever seen…

IMG_1829They look like fur until you touch them!

New recipe for tea tonight – Toover dhal with with lime and coriander leaf dumplings. I love getting all the ingredients out on the worktop before I start! It’s great to know exactly what’s gone into what you’re eating.

IMG_1830Unfortunately, the finished result was pretty bland despite all the herbs and spices, although the dumplings puffed up beautifully (never made dumplings with olive oil as the fat before, but worked well). I’ve cooked a few different dhal recipes, and although they’re usually edible, they never seem to have enough flavour. Lentils just seem like a vacuum that can absorb any other flavours like a sponge. So any hints if you’re a dhal master very welcome!


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September sunset

It was a really grey day for most of yesterday, but about 8pm, it looked like the sunset could get interesting, so we headed off down to the coast road just as the sun was sinking below the horizon. We thought we’d missed the best of it, but then this happened:

IMG_1822The sky just kept getting brighter and brighter with the most amazing patterns on the clouds. After about 10 minutes we thought it was done and we headed for home – where we were treated to a second wave of deep pink and purple.

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You often get these cracking sunsets after a dull day as clearer weather starts to move in. ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’ is apparently due to the sun’s rays reflecting on clouds of a departing weather system moving eastwards, so a red (or pink) sky in the evening often does herald a finer day to follow as most of the UK’s weather comes from the west. And that was certainly the case today – wall to wall blue sky as I write this.