Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Thank You!

I spoke to lovely Alison tonight, and I just wanted to say thank you for being as lovely in real life as you are on line.


Little Balls of Sunshine

My latest culinary obsession is oranges. They are like little balls of sunshine to me, splashes of vivid colour in the morning in the kitchen, and the zesty smell pricks at your nose as soon as you start to ease the peel back. Surely one of those rare fruits that satisfies all the senses- the bumpy skin, the smell, the taste, and, if you listen carefully, the noise the first spray of fine juice between the peel and the pith. My favourite way to eat them at the moment is to peel one, denude it of pith, then sprinkle with orange blossom water.

I like splashes of colour at this time of year. I bought a bunch of daffodils that were tight in buds at the farm shop Sunday morning, and now three of them are full out and the rest of them are on their way. I love just to sit and look at them in the evening light.

Friday, 27 January 2006

Tights Torture

The injustice of it. That is what has really rankled me. That is why I have been stomping about with a face like thunder, muttering and raging. (You might think that this is a fearsome sight, but sadly, it appears not. Dear Fiance told me that if I was a bit less comical during my storms I would do well).

You see, mornings are usually a little fraught. I start of with miles of time stretching ahead of me, but suddenly, the top I want to wear has vanished, in a puff of smoke. And my security pass, kazam, gone! My hair takes longer than it should to dry, and always, always, the only pair of tights in my drawer has a ladder. (I know, I know I could lay out my clothes, always put my pass in the same place and everything, I know, it just somehow never happens)!

So, yesterday, I sailed off to the shops and bought myself a brand new ten pack of tights. Ah ha! This morning, my early morning start, would go like a dream. And so it did, until I went to put on the tights. Despite being the same size, colour, denier, manufacturer, these tights just would not go on. Seeing as I have lost a few pounds over the last few weeks, I must conclude that the tights have got smaller rather than I have got bigger. Feet went on fine, over the ankles, fine. But as I was pulling them up my calves, I got the feeling that they were going to be nowhere near long enough. And sure enough, I was left with the crotch a good four inches south of where it should be, and the waistband no where near my waist! It is not even as though I am some willowy limbed giantess, I am five feet five...if I stretch a little!

Which of course necessitated a frantic scramble for another pair of tights which took more time than it should, and all I could think was oh! The injustice! I tried! I planned out what to wear, I made sure it was ready. I checked the whereabouts of my pass! I bought new tights! And now my fiance is giggling at me because I look a comical sight whirling about the room with half mast tights, semi blow dried hair and an expression of injusticed fury upon my face!

At least, comfort can be taken from the fact that surely, surely with a start such as this, the day can get nothing but better? We shall see...

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Pay Day Experiment

Isn't it funny how, before being paid, I saw lots and lots of things I wanted, no, needed to buy. I was assaulted on all fronts- delicious new magazines, froths of lace, bits of ribbon, things on eBay, oh, the things. And now I have been paid and am feeing rich again (this said with much irony of tone) I cannot find one single thing I want to buy!

Which is probably just as well really. You see, inspired by Enchanted April (I will stop banging on about this soon, but I have been so touched by this film, and now, the novel) I have decided to keep a little notebook in which to note expenditures. I just want to see where my money goes you see...and if as a side effect it means I save a little more, then it can hardly be a bad thing, I think!

I have my fingers crossed with all my might today. My lovely fiance went for his second interview (by video link, poor thing) and will know sometime after next Tuesday if he got the job or not. I want it for him so, so much. It would do his confidence masses of good, we could book our wedding reception, definitley stay in our little flat another year (landlord willing, of course!) and so, so much. So please, send a kindly thought our way!

I am wearing a new skirt today- I tore one at work, but in a very good girl manner uttered not one word- and am spreading glitter and sparkle everywhere as a consequence. It is a black skirt iwth pink and beige flowers splashed over it, and lots of tiny dots of gold spangle. Delicious.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

A Serendipitous Find

Having watched and enjoyed Enchanted April so much, it occurred to me that maybe it was based upon a book. I checked the library catalogue and it was. So I ordered it promptly...And then realized that a reading group was also doing it, so all the copies were out and there was a long list. Bah!

So I did a google search- really only to find out a little bit about the author and so on- and low and behold, I find that the text is available on line! I read the first chapter in my lunch hour...Do give it a go, do!


This week has really skipped away from me. I had a lovely visit Monday evening from my friend who I used to take salsa class with. We are planning a day trip to Bath in the summer, and are thinking of making ourselves reticules in which to carry our pennies and so on.

I have been tired this week. Perhaps it is the grey dampness and darkness? But I am not without hope as my snowdrop on the windowsill greets me cheerily each morning, and my narcissus is shooting up long green leaved stems of hope.

Monday, 16 January 2006

A Day Devoted Entirely To Pleasure

Doesn't that sound decadent? But it was bliss. You see, we knew that moving in together there would be shopping to do, washing to do, work work work to do, and we were, and are, quite happy with that. I still love the domestic side of things. But the other day, it occured to us that with work and running our home, we have not had one day just devoted to pleasure for a very long time.

Not that we have not had pleasurable days, just that there has always been something to do before we go out, or after we come back. Always. So we decided that the Saturday just gone, we would have a day devoted to enjoying it.

We went to the zoo- oh, how I love the zoo! We have gold cards so we can go as much as we would like to in a year, but I have not been for a while. So much changes between visit, they are always enriching the zoo, which I think is lovley. The most beautiful thing was standing in the sea lion pool- they have a glass tunnel so that you can stand while they swim around you. They were in such a playful mood, it was wonderful to see. Two of them were competing to see who could jump furthest out of the water, and two others were swimming in corkscrews and playing follow my leader.

Then we went to my lovely fiances parents house- they kindly said I could borrow their video player (ours died a while ago leaving us just with dvd) and I watched the most beautiful film. It was the early 90's version of Enchanted April. A little slow to start and I was worried I might not get it- sometimes it takes a while to ease into a film I find. But oh, it was so so beautiful! Set in the twenties, a group of ladies go to Italy for the month of April. I really didn't want it to end at all. It changes them in the most beautiful ways, almost healing.

I had never really had the urge to go to Italy before- I would have happily gone, but had not got the hunger if you know what I mean- but now I do! I can highly recommend this film.

The other adventures I had were making Seville Orange and Cointreau Marmalade (read, toffee!) a loaf of bread, and some Seville Orange Ice Cream.

And my lovely, lovely fiance stayed up while I went to bed with a headache, and washed up my sticky jam pan. What a darling!

Friday, 13 January 2006

Technological Kitchen Bliss

I am not what you would call a technophobe as such- eBay is a wonderful thing indeed, email is miraculous and I would not be without the internet! But I do have a healthy fear of technology, words such as 'Bluetooth', wiring up the DVD player myself and so on. And with so much gorgeous stationery in the world, surely there is not much room for computers in my life?

Ahh, that is what I thought until last night, when I had a veritable revolution! I had a happy hour or two clearing out my spices and herbs cupboard and dry goods cupboard and so on. Then it occured to me that I should make a list of all the spices and herbs I have, so when I see a new recipe I want to try, I shall know right away if I have coriander leaf or seed already or if I need to buy it.

My lovely fiance gave me his lap top to do it on- and now I have an excel sheet (because I love putting in a jumble of stuff and just clicking to get it in alphabetical order!) of what I have spice wise, then sheets of staples that we need to buy regularly, and household goods so it is easier for me to make shopping lists (this week will be our first on line shop. The plan is, get the stuff we cant get at the farm shop delivered, then go have fun shopping at the farm!)

My eyes are suddenly opened to the wonders of computers!

Next project is to make a list of all the fish/pasta/chicken/vegetarian etc recipes, so I can just decide what we are having each week and then order up the ingredients. Techno-nerd me...who would have thought it?

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Tch tch tch!

You see? You see?!

Less than a fortnight into the New Year and I am lapsing at my bloggin already! And I cannot even say that at least I have been keeping my journal at home up to date, because that is sadly neglected also.

What can I say? But see, I have come back! And I shall come back tomorrow and blog then as well.

I wish I could come up with some fabulous glamorous excuse for having been away- perhaps I shall say that I have been sipping coffee on a street cafe in Rome, or gazing at the sunset in Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower....but in reality, I have been feeling sleepy and tired and dreaming of a wedding dress that it seems is just beyond my financial grasp.

I have been reading too, and planning out wedding ideas. The church we have booked already, but my afternoon tea reception we are booking soon. So exciting things have been distracting me.

I also read a great article by Lesley Garner in Easy Living Magazine this month, that talks about how if it weren't for electric light and so on, this is the season when we would sleep more, dream, reflect, slow down. I have a real passion for the idea of the natural rhythms of life- not in a hippy dippy way, just in the way that I love to eat seasonal food, watch the trees bud into life, become covered in green then drop thier leaves in a glorious shower of fire. Beautiful seasons. Perhaps that is why I enjoy reading Romancing the Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach so much?

Things at work are very stirred up at the moment. Still I have the whole entire weekend off, and we are going to go to the zoo, the farm shop, and I hope to see the film Enchanted April that has been recommended to me by lovely Agnes at work.

Saturday, 7 January 2006

Magazines, magazines, magazines

Why are there so many lovely magazines? I am trying so hard to save and be good with money, but they make it so hard. I popped into the newsagent at lunch time and they had the new winter Martha Stewart weddings magazines. By some feat of resistance I did not buy it, but I bet I won't last long.

I don't know how I came to be afflicted with this hunger for reading material, especially in the format of lovely glossy pages, and the fresh newness of each months issue! But here is my dilemma. A lot of the magazines are offering subscriptions, where you pay a cheaper rate by direct debit. Do I go for it, and have my monthly fixes delivered to my door, and miss the thrill of seeing them appear on the shelves? Then of course there is the sizeable chunk that will disappear from my account every three months or so. But then again, it would mean more post! Decisions, decisions.

Just to give you an idea what we are talking about here..

Martha Stewart Living comes to me from America each month. When I nearly did not get my December Christmas issue, I fully thought the world might end. Happily I got it, and the world carries on!

Easy Living what a bargain at £2 an issue...only £12 a year to subscribe, and it is packed full of usefulness. I love the 'My Life In Books' feature too.

Eve has been a bit hit and miss lately, but is still worth a read.

She has been re-vamped and is now very Martha Stewarty, and I heartily approve. Thanks to their cut-out pages, I can point to more than one constellation in the sky now!

In Style I like to plan my wardrobe I shall have when I have lost the perfect amount of weight and am going to be a stylish girl about town. And hair styles I like. And make up I shall buy. Heaven help my cash card if I ever should find myself with my dream figure...

BBC Good Food This is practically a household expense anyway...I mean, it would be boring to serve up the same dish over and over! And it does teach all about seasonal food which is practically the same as saving the universe...

Simply Knitting I love this magazine. Some of the patterns, I can even do! And it makes me feel all creative when I read it.

These are my regulars, don'tnt think I have forgotten any...but I do occasionally get an Elle or something else as well.

Thank heavens my lovely fiancdoesn'tnt read my blog and know the full extent of my habit! Now to decide...to subscribe, or not to subscribe...? Maybe I should use the decision dice I got in my Christmas stocking. And I suppose I could sell any subscription gifts don'tnt want on eBay thus recouping some of the cost of subscribing...hmmm...

Thursday, 5 January 2006

Seville Oranges

I came back from lunch (successful shopping- Valerian Tea for the removal of sleepless nights, a replacement address book for the one that had upside down pages, the new issue of In Style magazine, a calendar for the wall that was half price and two beautiful Victorian style advent calendars down to £1 each rather than £6.95) to find a somewhat cryptic message on my desk-

"Your Mum rang and said she has got you several oranges"

Several oranges? No,no- Seville oranges! I love the Seville orange season- it is so short it makes them really worth grabbing while you can, and they are so beautiful in an ugly, nobbly kind of way. I shall be making my own marmalade once again, and also, the wonderful Nigella Lawson recipe for Seville Orange Ice Cream. I love there being things to look forward to even after Christmas.

I seem to have hurt my knee somehow- no bruise but really painful to walk on. This put paid to my idea of tidying out my dry goods cupboard last night, and putting everything into pretty glass jars and so on. Such is life- maybe tonight?

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

The Pesto Comes Back To Haunt Me...

You know how things come back to haunt you? Well for Christmas Eve, I made my own pesto to serve. (I am still in the first flush of love with my Braun Multiquick blender!). When I added some parmesan, I went to shake the jar to make sure it was all mixed...the lid was not on properly...and I got a wave of oily pesto down my favourite jumper.

My fiance is the laundry maid in our house, so I grabbed my jumper for work this morning off the clean pile, knowing it had been through the wash. I made a special effort this morning as I knew I was getting a new pass photo taken- and when I got to work, I looked in the mirror to brush my hair out and put on some lipstick, only to spy two great big oil stain blobs down the front! Agh! The pesto comes back to haunt me...

At least the nice lady who took my pass photo took it from the neck up- the oil stains are just out of shot!

Did I mention already that I am reading The Olive Farm for bookclub? (I have started to keep a journal too, and sometimes I forget what I have written where...) I really dont think I am going to finish it in time. Its not that its too long, just that I dont empathise enough with the author. Rather than getting caught up in her Provencal dream, all I can think is how irresponsible she is!

Today seems darker than yesterday was at this time, which of course cannot be true. I am going to go home and light some candles though. And I hope to have the time and inspiration to sort out my food cupboards. Order shall be mine!

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Happy New Year!

Well the ice cream dessert has not appeared to have poisoned anyone, so here is the recipe- it is a little on the sweet side, but I dont think that is always such a bad thing!

Take 250ml (or the nearest carton size to it that you can find) of double cream, and whisk it with 115g caster sugar and 1tsp vanilla essence until all thick and billowy. (Perhaps I made a mistake in using vanilla sugar as well as essence..I can always try again next snowfall!). Then gently whisk in about 8 cups of snow, then pour into a shallow container and freeze until you are ready to serve it, whereupon you take it out of the freezer about fifteen minutes before, grate over some nutmeg and then chocolate...mmm....

The days since New Years have whizzed by and I find myself a bit bewildered to be back at work already. Where does the time go? I celebrated New Years at a friends, where she served genius starters- shepherds pies served in the potato shell, like a filled baked potato with the potato on top. Yum! And idea I shall definitley be magpie-ing.

Needless to say I did not arise too early New Years Day, and much of the daylight hours were spent in a long hot bath. Yesterday I met a friend for lunch for her birthday, we did a gentle sweep through the sales (came away empty handed, bah!) and then home. Before I knew it I was choosing what to wear to work today...

Good progress with targets so far. Made scrumptious baked salmon on a bed of leeks and tagliatelle with pesto as my new dish last night! Have drunk many cups of peppermint tea, and have started to think about Bruges or Cologne, Cologne or Bruges...or both!...for our December break!