Saturday, 22 April 2017

Easter

The last two weeks have flown by and our Easter break has gone so fast.
Unfortunately, for me, the first week was spent virtually housebound following a hospital visit, and although exhausted and in some discomfort it felt very frustrating not being able to get out and about like I'm used to.
By Friday I was going a little stir-crazy but thankfully I was able to manage a short walk. It was such a relief and what a difference a week makes! So many flowers and the Bluebells were really beginning to show themselves. The fresh air and sunshine felt so restorative and just what I needed.
The Easter tree got decorated and we made a delicious chocolate cake which we covered with little sugar coated eggs. As with anything chocolatey in this house it didn't last very long.
Usually on Easter Sunday we take a walk up to one of our favourite viewpoints and eat some chocolate egg whilst sat on a lovely wooden bench. This year, however, the weather was a bit damp. We still managed the walk but instead came home to enjoy the chocolate and warmed ourselves through with a nice cup of tea.
Luckily Monday turned out to be a much drier day and we took the train to Crosby beach. I have always wanted to see the Antony Gormley sculptures and it was a really enjoyable visit.
Even though it looks quiet from these photographs, there were a lot of people and dogs out enjoying the Bank Holiday. There was only a gentle breeze and it was mild enough to sit and enjoy some lunch as we watched the tide roll in and gradually cover some of the figures before we made our way home again.
The last few days have been spent close to home. I've been on some gentle walks, caught up with the housework and concentrated on getting well again.
J. X 


Friday, 14 April 2017

Wild Garlic

Last year, I'm not sure why, I missed the opportunity to go foraging for Wild Garlic. So last weekend we went for one of our regular walks through some local woods to find some.
It wasn't too early in the day but it was so lovely and quiet, there was no one else around except for a rabbit or two.
The path through the woods is beautiful and now that the ground has dried out a bit it made for a more pleasant stroll. The woodland is slowly coming back to life with the help of the sunlight breaking through the trees and the first Bluebells are making an appearance.
We followed the winding path deeper into the woods to find our treasure and we weren't disappointed. A huge green carpet of gently scented Wild Garlic lay out before us.
We carefully gathered together some of the fresh young leaves set back from the path, just enough to fill a small bag, then took the time to sit down and enjoy our surroundings before heading for home again.
That evening, determined to enjoy the results of our mornings efforts, we turned those bright green leaves into a delicious smelling and tasting Wild Garlic Pesto.
This is the recipe we used.
100g Wild Garlic leaves
50g grated Parmesan
50g toasted Pine Nuts
250mls Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
The juice of half a lemon
Thoroughly wash the Wild Garlic leaves and add to the other ingredients in a food processor. Blend to your desired consistency.
It was so delicious, served simply, spooned through some freshly cooked pasta with an added sprinkling of Parmesan on top.
I spooned the rest of the fabulously green Pesto into a small Kilner jar and covered with a layer of the oil it should keep for several weeks in the fridge.
J. X

Friday, 7 April 2017

In The Garden

It's that time of year again. So much to do. A race against time to get on top of the garden maintenance before things grow wild and weeds take over.
Since the grass had its first cut of the season the rest of the garden looked, quite honestly, a bit of a mess. My good intentions (I have so many of those) of tidying it all up last Autumn went by the wayside as soon as the cold, damp weather arrived, so the dead plants and weeds have been there all through the winter months just waiting for me.
Most of Monday was spent cleaning the moss from the block paving on the driveway. Hard work, but very satisfying results. It looks sooo much better.
The old plants which were in the raised bed for the sole purpose of keeping the cats off got cleared away last week and the soil dug over in preparation for this season's growing efforts. I managed to 'fashion' a barrier to keep any cats off until the vegetables are (hopefully) established.
We have planted carrots, spring onions, spinach and courgettes. Lily really enjoyed this part. Looking at the difference in the seeds and covering them gently with the soil.
This patch of soil was one of the areas I did manage to clear last year of some well overgrown Lavender. I now need some new plants to fill the gaps. The soil is quite stoney but does benefit from sunlight for most of the day. Any suggestions welcome.
At the far end of the garden, my favourite feature, the dry stone wall.
The table and chairs are currently being painted in 'Wild Thyme.' Once I've finished painting them this planter will also be cleaned up and painted the same shade. I'm not sure what to put in it yet. We have previously used it to grow strawberries. If I manage to get it finished soon we could maybe manage some for this season too.
This is the first year that I have really made much of an effort with the garden and even though I'm not really sure what I'm doing, I'm doing my best and, surprisingly,  I'm quite enjoying myself.
J. X

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Lily Tarn

Last weekend we were blessed with sunshine, blue skies and no work, so as we do around these parts, we got outdoors and made the most of it.
Now that Lily is getting that big bigger (as they do),  it is no longer as straightforward as putting her in the back carrier and striding out to wherever we like. Instead we now need to make use of distance and terrain more suitable for little legs.
A little research and map reading later  a short circular route from Ambleside led us up to the aptly named Lily Tarn. Although there was snow on the higher fells it was lovely and warm and the air was still.
Looking down Lake Windermere.
A perfect spot for a picnic.
Lily Tarn.

From where we were parked it must have been about a five mile walk. Little legs did very well.
I am now looking forward to discovering more short walks which we have previously overlooked.
J. X

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Photo Challenge and Cookies

This month I am joining in with the lovely Kate at I live, I love, I craft, I am me  blog for a scavenger photo hunt. A little late due to photo uploading issues.
'A photograph inspired by a word, words inspired by the photographs.'
My words are in a different order to the given list, you will see why.
Please join us on our walk.....
Walk.
The view from our destination.
Flowers.
Daffodils are everywhere around here at the moment. Here are a few in the woodland.
Favourite colour.
On this particular day it was blue.
Hat.
Half way up and it had to be removed. The chill of the fresh morning air soon replaced by the warmth of the sun.
Reading.
The stone seat at the summit.
Comfortable.
My six year old boots. Still going strong given how many miles they must have walked.
Baking or cooking.
A well earned rest for little legs and some home made cookies. Sat perilously close to an enticing muddy puddle.
Favourite mug or cup and saucer.
Not quite a mug, but a flask of  delicious hot chocolate does just fine.
My own choice.
Because I hope she always has a love of the outdoors.
Candles.
With a small person around they don't get lit as often as I would like, but always a pleasure when they are.

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.

1 cup of butter
1 1/2  cups of caster sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of plain flour
2/3 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
100g of chocolate chips.

Beat together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract, mix well.
Sieve flour, cocoa powder, Bicarbonate of Soda and salt. Add to butter mixture along with the chocolate chips.
Small teaspoonful's on a tray. 160 for approximately 10 minutes.
Enjoy.

J. X





Thursday, 16 March 2017

It's Here!

Here we are, at last. Sunshine, blue skies and fresh air - Spring!
My whole being breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The only downside to this glorious weather is that the sunshine is showing up every last bit of dust in the house in high definition. With any luck it might just blow away now that I'm able to leave the windows open.
We've been out walking. It is still incredibly muddy, but with the warm breeze and clear skies I can overlook this one minor disgruntlement.
We got to rest a while, sit on a (dry) bench and take in the views. What a wonderful, albeit long overdue, way to feed the soul.
I have had some washing on the line. It smells so much fresher and I do so love to see it blowing in the breeze. The grass has had it's first, much needed, cut of the year and our tiny raised bed prepared for Lily's seed planting.

The blanket is coming along nicely. I'm really hoping to finish it before the warmer weather comes
along. I do think a blanket makes for more of a winter month project. There is something very cosy and comforting about sitting under it as I work. This week I laid it out on the carpet to see how it was progressing and a certain small person staked her claim to it. I think I'll take it as a compliment.
J. X

Friday, 3 March 2017

Hurry Up Spring!

I have been feeling particularly meh! the last couple of weeks. I'm sure it is something to do with the weather. The damp, grey days have become so wearisome. I have appreciated the Winter months while they lasted, but enough now. My body is crying out for warmth, sunshine and blue skies.
I have been meaning to get into the garden to tidy up and dig over, but the cold and damp have put paid to my good intentions, preferring instead to stay indoors in a state of semi-hibernation.
To make the most of  my time I attempted to make a dent in the yarn stash at the bottom of my wardrobe by making another blanket - they always come in useful, right? What I didn't realise, however, is that for some reason my idea of stash busting involved me buying even more yarn! I'm not quite sure where I went wrong with this.
I am getting desperate now to get fresh air into my lungs without trudging through mud and my fingers and toes going numb with the cold. I have plans for our garden. The furniture needs a coat of paint.  Seeds and gardening gloves have been bought and what I lack in knowledge about what the heck I'm supposed to do with them, I will try and make up for in enthusiasm.
The house is ready for a good Spring clean. I'm looking forward to having the windows wide open, a good clear out, washing on the line and cups of tea in the garden.

Hurry up Spring!
J.X


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Hearts And Cake

Once again we are halfway through the month before I realise. I have been keeping quite busy and my month got off to a great start when I went to see my favourite band in concert. It's been years since I went to a such a big event and it was just as thrilling as I remembered.
Thankfully, following some dull days, it is now becoming noticeable that the hours of daylight are gradually increasing. Hurray! for that.
My eyes are telling me Spring is on it's way although I am still reaching for my Winter woollies in a morning. It has been very cold and incredibly windy recently. Yesterday I got quite excited (yes, I know, it doesn't take much) at the thought of hanging out my washing only to change my mind at the prospect of it getting blown off the line. Our walks have been kept at a low level for the same reason.

For the most part I am still cooking from scratch and really relishing my time spent in the kitchen. The bread making is ongoing and I used the same recipe to make some bread rolls which turned out to be just as tasty.
Also in the kitchen this week I baked a delicious Lemon Drizzle cake and today the delicate scent of the Hyacinths on the kitchen windowsill has been overpowered by the amazing aroma of freshly baked Chocolate Orange Brownies. A Valentines treat for me my family.
Happy Valentine's Day.
J. X