Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Keeping On




I've been rather quiet on here lately. Although not entirely intentional,  it has, at least, afforded me some time to restore and recharge my batteries. I've been adjusting to a different rhythm to my days and it is taking some getting used to.
Day to day life continues, however and I'm busying myself with the regular routine whilst I wait for other areas to settle into a more familiar pattern.

Our days are often decided by the weather and we are finding it can feel like spring one minute and returning to winter the next. We've had morning frosts, followed by warm sunshine then heavy rain. I would quite like there to be another snowfall before the end of winter but the forecast doesn't show any sign of a drop in temperature and with the arrival of lambs in the fields and the crocuses beginning to show their colour it might be that we are set for an early spring. To be honest, I think I'm probably ready for some warmer days and being able to spend more time outdoors; the arrival of lighter evenings has not escaped me either.

We've been out walking as often as possible and I'm managing to get out running with a bit more regularity, which is having a positive influence on my wellbeing. I'm hoping I can keep it up, maybe with the possibility of entering a running event later on in the year. Lily, however, seems more keen to go swimming recently. Since the beginning of the year it has been a joy to watch her grow in confidence and ability in the water. Another milestone reached and yet another sign my little girl is growing and changing all the time. It is wonderful to see, it's just happening so fast that sometimes I would like to press the pause button.



At home this week I've made a start on a good tidy and clear out although, as with all my good intentions, I have reached a bit of a sticking point. The whole process of going through cupboards and drawers is never appealing but it does feel so satisfying when I get to see the finished result. If I manage to do a little bit at a time it might not feel quite so overwhelming.


I have, however, finished the blanket for Lily. Finally! I can't quite remember when I started it but I know I was working on it when we went camping last May.
It took me a while but I got there in the end.
J. X

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Winter

There are certain times, throughout the seasons, when I experience moments which I hope never cease to bring me joy.
The first green shoots, signalling the approach of spring, the wonderful petrichor scent in the air when there has been rainfall at the end of a hot, summer day, kicking through the leaves in autumn and, at this time of the year, waking up to discover there has been an unexpected snowfall during the night.

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And so, it was with great excitement, one morning last week we awoke to discover a beautiful light dusting of frost and snow, which had turned the garden all sparkly and the grass hard and crunchy underfoot. Lily declared, in her now predictably dramatic way,  "Finally.....it's winter!" 

The snow continued to fall on and off throughout the morning and although, by late afternoon, there was still only a sparse covering, we knew further up the road it would be a different story.

The following day, wearing our winter woollies, warm jackets and mittens, we set off to enjoy an afternoon of sledging and fun. The snow was knee deep in places and, at times, it was difficult to make our way up the track, but the air was still, the sun shone on the hillside and all around had been transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland.

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We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of sledging and making snow angels, our noses gradually turning pink and our fingers and toes becoming numb with cold. Eventually the chill began to set in and we made our way home to warm ourselves with steaming mugs of tea, exhausted but happy.


J. X

Thursday, 24 January 2019

January


Before I start wittering on, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for all the good wishes and supportive comments on my previous post. I have been genuinely overwhelmed and touched by your kind words of encouragement and friendship, so please know just how much each and every message means to me.

We've eased ourselves gently into the year, allowing for the mindless daily routine to see us through, finding comfort in the ordinary.
For the most part, January has been reflective of my recent mood. The days have been gloomy, grey and damp, with very little in the way of sunshine; until this last week when the mornings have been pleasingly frosty and bright, with snow covered mountain tops and icy pavements.

There is still joy to be found at this time of year, however.  We've been out walking, whenever possible, wrapping up well against the wintry weather and I can't fail to be cheered by the sight of swathes of snowdrops in the woods. I've begun working on my crochet again ( I will get this blanket finished!), and I'm even attempting to kick start my running; I might have only been out four times since new year, but still, it's a start and I'm hoping to build on it.





It's been a quiet month so far and I've been spending a lot of my time in the kitchen. When life is uncertain I like to keep busy and feel like I'm doing my bit by providing good, wholesome food. We've enjoyed some delicious soups and our vegetable intake has increased significantly thanks to the purchase of a vegetable box. Since the beginning of the year I've given the kitchen cupboards a good clear out, so I now know just what has been hiding away at the back and I've been able to use up some things which would have otherwise gone to waste. I never understand why I allow the cupboards to get in such a mess, no matter how many times I vow to keep on top of them.


At the weekend, and following a bit of a search for some Seville oranges, I made marmalade. Yes, it was time consuming and yes, it was messy (or that could just be me!), but oh my goodness, it is delicious.
I split the batch in two. Partly because my pan wasn't deep enough once the sugar was added, and also so I was able to add some brandy to half of the mix. Both with and without it tastes so good and, as a first attempt, I am very happy with it.




If you would like to try it for yourself, this is the recipe I used.

1 kg Seville oranges
2.25l water
2kg granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Makes around eight jars.

Squeeze the juice out of the fruit and pour through a sieve (to catch any bits) into the pan and add the water. Remove the pips and pith from the orange peel and place in a small muslin bag, suspending this in the juice.
Slice up the peel to the required thickness and place in the pan, simmering gently for around 1½ hours. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then squeeze the liquid from the bag into the orange mixture.
Add the sugar to the pan and gradually bring to the boil stirring continuously for around fifteen minutes. Test for the setting point on a cold saucer and once ready pour into sterilised jars.
If you wish to add whisky or brandy to your marmalade, then stir though 100mls just before pouring into the jars.

J. X