Wednesday, 29 February 2012

An extra day.

A family friend was born on the 29th and so every four years he has a big bash which some of my family will be in attendance. We have less grand plans for this extra day; to play, sew and go on a walk with friends, ending in a cafe of course! What are you doing? Radio Four's Today Programme has been asking people all month what 'leap' they are going to take today. I am looking forward to the follow up.

So far this week we have been busy. Our days have included, a Gruffalo hunt, another will be undertaken today, "Look Mummy, it's the deep dark woods!"


We have been playing with "Mrs Noah" and the animals. My daughter is in to 'tents' at the moment, therefore so are her toys - the box is there hangout.


Dinners have been made, we are all fans of Levi Roots in this house. This meal came from his Food for Friends book.






We have been out in our garden with friends, looking at the Rabbits running about in the garden next door. There is something positive to be found in having a clapped out fence!




There has been a lot of play involving cars and puzzles. Unusually puzzles seem to be more popular than books currently.



Self portraits have been taken.


Making and eating scones with friends. Delia helped me out this time, I made them mini so that several could be enjoyed by our guests!





We have been enjoying our cheap supermarket tulips, watching them unfurl.


Another great enjoyment for me has been starting my Emily Peacock tapestry. If I don't attempt to curb my enthusiasm in the near future we may end up with a small domestic crisis on our hands. I am in danger of neglecting many duties!





These small things, and many others, are filling our days and it is good. In short, we are happy, just as the emerging tapestry is trying to tell us. We hope on this extra day you are too.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Pre-Spring


With the unseasonably warm weather we have had recently we have been venturing into our garden a lot more. We moved into our house in August, knowing that we would have to live in it as it was for at least a little while in order to come up with the finance to build the large extension that it would need as well as a new bathroom and kitchen and a complete revamp of all decoration. I plan to give you a grand tour, when I can pluck up the courage to reveal just how un-blog worthy my reality is. I love reading blogs where I only see the 'good' bits of people's lives, but that really isn't who I am. I am a warts and all type of girl so there was never any hope I would be able to maintain anything else on my blog! Besides, seeing the squalor I live in is bound to make someone else feel better about their situation - I will think of it as a charitable service!


Even the garden needs everything imaginable done to it as you can see from the pictures. It had a pond so big 200 Koi lived in it once upon a time - we still have a Heron that pops by from time to time hoping for a meal! As we have a toddler we filled it in. Not pretty - yet. Eventually it will be part of a garden including raised bed, a storage facility/shed for my Husband and a grassy area for lots of play.



And this is the point - potential. It all has potential if you just look closely enough. I spend a lot of time planning our renovation campaign but spending time in the garden over the last few days has given me the opportunity to enjoy what we currently have with my daughter. It may not be beautiful, (it definitely isn't), but it is our space. Just like our wreck of a house, and one day it's true potential will emerge, just like the flowers in the garden. Hopefully by that time I will work out what exactly they are!


Monday, 27 February 2012

Birthday Weekend


I was lucky enough to have a whole Saturday out and about with one of the loveliest people I know. We had planned the day with military precision.

  *Two girls out on the town taking pictures. I wrote my MSC dissertation in the British Library and the smell of the place bought it all back!

 We wanted to fit in The Genius of Illumination as well as The Honey High Tea at The Athenaeum, (they had a picture of the queen on the wall, that can only be a good sign!). Both the exhibition and the Tea were absolutely worth it. Following this as Gillian does not live in London we wanted to fit in some shopping (I never need much of an excuse!). We whirled through Laduree, Fortnum and Mason, Anthropologie, Hamley's (purgatory has the edge), Liberty and of course John Lewis! As you can imagine, we were pretty exhausted after this and retired to The Booking Office for a well deserved dinner and to relax whilst waiting for Gillian's train. I thought my day could not get any better but on my way home a flower seller gave me my flowers for free after a lovely conversation and I got home to a sleeping toddler. Perfection!


Sunday saw my husband cleaning the house from top to bottom (dear reader, this is not a usual occurrence but a very nice birthday treat!), a cuppa and a macaroon follower by a walk in the fabulous sunshine on Epsom Downs and then retired to The Derby Arms for a Birthday Roast.

 Gillian has documented our London trip better than I have but below are photos of my weekend. (If you read to the end of this self indulgence let alone get through all the pictures you are very kind indeed!).






















Friday, 24 February 2012

~~ This Moment ~~

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Via SouleMama.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

34 before 35


My Birthday has always felt like a time of reflection and review for me, even more so that New Year. Over the last few years I have made a list of things I wish to do or achieve or simply work on over the next year of my life. I have never completed everything on one of these lists but for me that isn't really the point. My aim is to give myself motivation to at least attempt some of my dreams. Accountability, in the hope that I may make some of them come true. Now that I am a Mother I have less time to please myself and find these lists and excellent way to remember things that I want to do for me. Something we often do not allow ourselves when we have small children. There is nothing earth shattering on my list. I am not looking to win a Nobel Prize of cure HIV. These are lists that celebrate the small things, the everyday things, that enrich our lives. Over the last few weeks I have been reviewing my last list and preparing my new list. I unveil it here for your (possible) interest, to be honest it feels rather like standing naked in front of a group of stangers. I am not sure why!

  1. Have another baby (or at least get pregnant!)
  2. Learn to drive
  3. Lose 14lbs
  4. Grow Sunflowers
  5. Read 10 books from my 100 'Must Read' list
  6. Hire a Beach Hut for the day
  7. Have a day out with lovely Gillian
  8. Eat at Taco Lisa
  9. Draw my daughter
  10. Complete my Project Life
  11. Give money to charity every month
  12. Take High Tea at a posh hotel
  13. Attempt some free hand embroidery
  14. Take a craft course
  15. Make bread by hand
  16. Swim outside in rivers and the sea
  17. Camp - a lot!
  18. Plan a weekend for an important group of friends
  19. Make a good meringue
  20. Attend a festival
  21. Get my hair cut
  22. Make 5 things from my pinterest list of craft inspirations
  23. Complete our home rennovations and extension
  24. Grow herbs and vegetables in the garden
  25. Become more adept at using the sewing machine 
  26. Make 5 types of preserves
  27. Open an Etsy shop
  28. See the Queen!
  29. Make elderflower cordial
  30. Attend this years Weald Wood Fair 
  31. Make more presents for people than last year
  32. Join a WI
  33. Write more frequently to my good friend and Pen Pal
  34. Plan a suprise party for my lovely Husband

Do you have similar life lists? I know of two lovely bloggers who do, I have seen both Hula Girl and Emma Bradshaw post similar lists on their blogs over the years.


* The photograph of the tree is totally unrelated, it's just one I took last year that I like.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Thankful


Today is the end of my own personal year and I am feeling extremely happy and hopeful for the year ahead. Warmer weather is around the corner, (see Crocus' above), rennovations will start on our house, (thank heavens), I have lovely friends and family and lots and lots of plans afoot. I will unveil a few tomorrow.

I am also greatful for you, my few dear readers. Thank you for popping by and making my naval gazing slightly less gratuitous!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"When I'm lost I feel so very found"

 
 
I came across Mindy Gledhill right when I needed to. Those Mormons certainly know something! All of those I have come across (admittedly on the web and therefore not scientific and probably ‘ist’ in some way!) seem so positive, grounded and willing to try. Ms Gledhill appears to be no exception; she even goes on stage and performs with a baby strapped to her. At that stage of Mothering I was lucky to brush my hair! She is inspirational and her music is even more so. Some might write it off as ‘perky’ for want of a better word. I find it very life affirming. I dance around a lot at home with only the washing pile and my daughter for company and find these songs excellent fodder for this behaviour. 




I have a tendency towards the melancholy, I can often spend days in shades of grey and, occasionally, black. I find music can greatly influence my ability to change my mood, for better or worse, and Mindy Gledhill most definitely falls into the category of ‘Happy’. Her music and lyrics are uplifting. The more I listen to her album ‘Anchor’ the more I find in it to identify with. I think you might like it too.




Just a piece of advice - if you are going to dance around the living room to this whilst your daughter is eating her lunch in order to make her laugh and bring a little joy? Make sure you have the blinds closed as you may not want your entire neighbourhood to see your groovy moves....


* Title is a lyric from Mindy Gledhill's 'Anchor'.
** My husband is a master pancake maker, I am hopeing he will be on duty after work this evening. I am a fan of maple syrup, what do you like on yours?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Red Onion Marmalade


In honour of the Lovely Gillian, who's birthday it is today I thought I would post this recipe as she has asked for it.


I used a very slightly adapted version of the Red Onion Marmalade in The Dorling and Kindersley Preserving Book.

I used;

2 tbsp olive oil
6 (large) red onions, approx 2lbs or just over.
Pinch of salt
150ml of red wine (I used the cheapest going!)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp soft brown sugar

I cooked the thinly sliced onions and the salt in the olive oil on a low heat for 30 mins. Apparently it is this long slow cooking that helps the flavour along.


You then add the wine and vinegars and bring to the boil. The sugar is then added and the heat reduced back down for another 30-40 mins stirring every now and then until there is very little liquid left.


One most of the liquid has evaporated taste it and adjust the seasoning in required. The bottle or jar the mixture in vinegar proof on non-metallic lid containers. The book suggests to use wax discs and store in the fridge for 1 month. Space is also at a premium in my little fridge so I am tempting fate by keeping my jar in the rather cool kitchen. I used these little Kilner jars. This initially huge amount of onions only filled three of these jars. I have given one to my Mum as a thank you present when we stayed last week, one to the previously mentioned Gillian when I was lucky enough to see her and we have kept one for us.


I am a little bit obsessed with the brilliance of the 0.25l kilner jars. For Christmas I made some (rather bitter it turns out) lime pickle for presents. I would say the jars make for great presents, even if the content does not turn out as hoped!

I found it easy to make and the marmalade tasted good before it went into the jars. I did attempt to gently bang the jars and get out all the air bubbles, but I never manage all the air bubbles when preserving so I will just have to hope for the best. I suspect, in four weeks, when paired with a really good smelly cheese it will be passable no matter what!



*If anyone would be kind enough to explain to me what I need to do to my blog template so it shows more than one post I would be grateful! I have set it to show ten days of posts and still it only shows one.