2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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Unwinding

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I’ve recently reverted to a childhood pleasure: colouring books. This is mainly because of a lovely Christmas gift from my other half of the above book: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. This amazing book takes colouring to a completely new level – with its minute detail and stunning designs it’s really not aimed at children. Having a quick look around the web today too, it was clear to see that lots of people use it in just the same way I do: it’s a great way to switch off and wind down.

IMG_2692I’ve been using Stabilo pens (pictured on my blogpost here last year) to colour mine and they seem to work really well, they have fine points but also enable you to colour larger areas without leaving too many tide marks. If you’re a frustrated artist looking for something creative and quick, do try this book – I’m planning on framing some of the pages when I finish them as they’re so lovely.

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In addition to my artistic endeavours, I’ve been trying a new scone recipe today:Blueberry, lime and coconut scones from a Jo Wheatley recipe in Sainsbury’s mag this month. They were absolutely delicious, but I had to use almost double the amount of milk stated to get the dough to bind together – maybe my lime was a bit small. I always find that’s a problem when recipes just state ‘juice of a lemon/lime/orange’ as the amount of juice you get varies widely. Beautiful combination of flavours though, highly recommended 🙂

 

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Luscious lemon cake

IMG_2417The baking of the lemon cake was postponed last night, as on closer examination the loaf tin size suggested in Sainsbury’s magazine seemed to have been a misprint – I couldn’t find anywhere on line that sold loaf tins that were 13cm x 7cm, and my small tin was way bigger than that, plus the quantities seemed strangely small. So I resorted to the tried and tested BBC Good Food Lemon drizzle cake instead, and it worked perfectly.

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It’s cooling now and will shortly be demolished by myself and my other half who’s just returned from a long run (and I had a run this morning too, so we’ve earned it. No question.)


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Recharging my batteries

It’s Friday afternoon, I have a host of work that I should be doing, but I know my brain is tired. So I’m stopping. Doing stuff I enjoy, that engages my senses, reduces the stress response – and returns me fresher and brighter afterwards. So on the agenda is:

Embroidery – I’ve been working on this kit since Christmas and am so enjoying doing this for the first time in years.

IMG_2399Stroll round the garden – looks like it’s going to be an early spring this year with a few flowers already out like hellebores,

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IMG_2405heather,

IMG_2402and the silvery seed pods of honesty just hanging on.

IMG_2411A little light baking – I’m planning on making a lemon drizzle cake from this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine.

Reading – currently enjoying ‘By Blood’ by Ellen Ullman, unsettling and gripping tale of someone who overhears sessions with an analyst in the room next door…

A long, hot bath with the luxurious smellies I got for Christmas.

Browse through the blogs I follow.

Spot of meditation…

I feel better already – what have you got planned to help you wind down this weekend?


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Joys of running

I am loving my running at the moment. I’ve been doing a really slow build programme the last couple of months and am now covering just over 3 miles when I head out. Now I know this is nothing by most runners’ standards, but for someone who couldn’t even get round a 400m track at school, this is an achievement.

One of the things that has made a real difference for me is being able to do it in the middle of the day now that I work for myself (it still feels strange saying that). I find it makes a perfect break after several hours slaving over a hot laptop, and whatever stress has accumulated over the morning has gone by the time I get back.

IMG_2150Of course, it helps no end being able to get out into nature rather than just streets.

IMG_2148The local park is less than 10 minutes away at a slow jog, and most of the way is off-road down a disused railway line, usually deserted apart from the odd dogwalker in the middle of the day and often home to several squirrels.

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So many amazing colours as the leaves give it one last, final blast before winter.

IMG_2151I’d have had to do a lot more than 3 miles though to work off tonight’s tea: cheese, apple, onion and thyme pie from BBC Good Food.

IMG_2156Honestly, I don’t know who thinks up these portion sizes. Serves 10??? Not a chance 🙂


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Good things about Autumn No. 3

IMG_19821. Your lunchtime walk (running off the agenda till I shake this cough) is suddenly a lot more colourful.

IMG_19922. Blue sky looks a whole lot bluer when contrasted with golden leaves.

IMG_19933. Scrunching through the leaves is on the agenda once more.

IMG_19974. Potatoes dauphinoise for tea seems entirely appropriate and a wise precaution to keep the cold out 🙂


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The happiness of lemon cake

Yesterday was a truly horrible day. The sort of day where everything seems black, pointless, futile…I think most of us have been there at one time or another. After a slightly better night’s sleep (and am sure the series of broken nights I’ve had this week hadn’t helped my mood at all) things seemed a bit brighter this morning. I got some simple work tasks completed, got some emails out of the way and then – my lovely other half asked if he should have a go at making the lemon and cardamom cake I’d had marked out since last weekend but hadn’t had chance to make.

I didn’t need asking twice!

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So many things about this cheered me up – the fact that he was thoughtful enough to try and create a treat for me when he’s not that into cake baking (okay, he’s partial to cake too, he’s not totally altruistic!), the fantastic scent of lemon and cardamom drifting through the house, the collaboration on the tricky bits (‘What’s this maize meal stuff in the ingredients…why can’t they say polenta then if that’s what they mean??’), the anticipation of warm cake after my lunchtime run – they all combined perfectly to lift my mood considerably.

Lemon cake + run + lovely OH = Happiness, for today at any rate. And really, the here and now is all that matters.

IMG_1944(For those of you who want to try it the recipe is from Tamasin Day-Lewis’s book ‘Good Tempered Food’. The only thing we changed was to reduce the cardamom to 1tsp – but I think the full amount would have been okay too.)


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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!