Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Three Cups of Tea and a Hot Cross Bun

This morning was one of those days where I woke up in the dark just a fraction of a moment before the radio alarm came on. Our radio alarm clock is very old indeed - my husband had it when he was about 6, I think. It is tuned into Radio 4, and if you have to wake up at ten past six in the morning, then I can't think of a better way.

We always lay together for a few minutes before Carl gets up and makes the first cup of tea of the morning. Then I go into the kitchen and make our breakfasts and packed lunches, and then we always sit together for a few minutes before he has to leave for work.

Oftentimes, I will just get ready for work and head out of the door myself, but some mornings call for another cup of tea - and this was one of them. From our kitchen window, I could see that the light had that slight hazy quality which accompanies a chilly morning.

One of the reasons I have not posted for a while has been that I have been slightly jaded by all this cold - it makes me want to just hibernate under piles of blankets and drink pot after pot of tea. I have been have been dealing with a distressing work situation also, which has been draining me of a surprising amount of energy.

But even though it is, apparently, the longest winter we have had for 50 years, there are signs of spring coming, everywhere I look. We have had the snowdrops, and now the crocuses are out. There are daffodils in the shops. Easter is at the weekend. The days are getting longer. The promise of spring is almost, but not quite, as good as spring itself.

This evening I have been snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a blanket, a very indulgent box of Laudree Macarons (thanks to my lovely sister-in-law!) and watching the Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood Easter Bake Off Masterclass. When the programme started, I was struck by how beautiful the kitchen they are cooking in is - all lemony-cream walls, a great big dresser, and pots and bunches of golden daffodils everywhere you look. How utterly heavenly. It has left me wanting to do a great deal of baking, to crystallise primroses, make lemon curd, and candy lemon zest. I think I need an extra-long Easter weekend to fit it all in to! I think next year, rather than give Easter eggs or chocolate bunnies, I would like to make jars of lemon marmalade to give as little gifts.

Normally, I am very strict with myself about not eating Hot Cross Buns before Easter. I can't decide if I am going to make my own or buy them this year, but we won't be eating them until Friday. But I did eat one of those Marks and Spencer's chocolatey ones today at work. It was a charity cake morning, and I really fancied one - they definitely don't taste like hot cross buns, but they are scrummy! Very squidgy, very chocolatey, very delicious! I wouldn't have them instead of hot cross buns, but would definitely buy them as well.

I would also like to crochet some little Easter Bunnys, and some owls, as posted about by the wonderful Lucy over at Attic24 - see this post: http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2013/03/the-owl-and-the-bunny.html I wonder what tomorrow will bring - will it be another 3-cup morning? I imagine that later in the morning will almost certainly see another of those chocolate cross buns being eaten!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Soft Day, Wrapped In Mist and Rain

Tuesday this week was utterly, utterly glorious. The first taste of spring, and oh, how ready I was for it. Not that I thought it would last, it is too early in the month for pure unbridled spring, but I had hoped that it would flirt with us a little longer. It has though, got steadily cooler, and when I woke this morning and looked out of the kitchen window, everything was shrouded in mist. I like misty days, somehow everything feels muffled and gentle and just different. The mist had cleared by lunch time today, to be replaced first by a soft drizzle of rain, but it steadily increased to an insistent persistent downpour. We had book group this evening, and I sat drinking tea and discussing The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, listening to the rain tapping against the conservatory roof. I wouldn't want too many days of so much rain, but today it just felt nice. I had a busy end to my week - I am on leave next week and wanted to leave everything in order before I left for the day. I didn't quite get there, I have some work that I will need to do tomorrow, but suddenly to have a whole week ahead of me - that feels nice. Expect some more frequent posts next week! I am thinking also of putting on one of those gadgets that gets you to authenticate before leaving a comment. I had 27 comments to moderate when I logged on just now - an unprecedented number, which told me something was up - but every last one was spam. Sigh!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

First Stirrings of Spring

My St David's Day Daffodils are now as open as open can be, so pale and creamy, and pale and lemony, and abundantly ruffley! Even though it is evening now, and we have shut the evening out, they are a beautiful echo of the spring-like day we have enjoyed today.

When I stepped out to walk to work this morning, I was struck by how soft the air seemed. Slightly hazy, and cool enough to need a coat, but warm enough to leave off your gloves, and wriggle your fingers in the breeze.

Days like this make me so happy. I need to make time to walk through the park and look at the crocuses again. Next week, I have a week off work to look forward to. A little bit of time to sit and appreciate the spring.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Welcome, March!

I love March - February has it's snowdrops but it also has icy weather. March has daffodils and crocuses and amongst blustery chilly days can surprise you with sudden warmth and spring breezes. It sometimes has Easter in it, always has my birthday in it, and generally it is a month that makes me full of hope and green shoots of promise.

It also starts with St David's Day. I love marking Saints Days, and as I have Welsh heritage, St David's Day is a favourite. I bought a beautiful big bunch of daffodils for our windowsill, and sat them in a large cream jug to open. One of the things I love about daffodils is how they are always a surprise when they open. While they are tightly furled in their buds, you never know what colour you are going to get. I was hoping a little bit for the traditional bright gold for St David's Day, but was very pleased with the pale creamy outer petals and the pale lemony trumpets. I cooked Welsh lamb for our dinner, and had been planning to buy some Welsh Cakes for dessert, but alas the shop was sold out, and I was too tired to make any.

I spent yesterday morning with the lovely Apryl, who I used to work with at the library. We had both signed up to a free morning at our Adult Community Learning Centre to learn to repair and renovate clothes. There were ten of us altogether, and we started with the super basics - running stitch and backstitch - but then moved quickly on to some more interesting things. We learnt to sew a hem so that the stitches do not show, and a clever way of joining two pieces of fabric together, again hiding the stitches. We made buttonholes by hand, and then tried making them on the machine as well. We tried a few other things on the machine as well, and I came away feeling confident enough to try out my own sewing machine at last.

We walked back through the park, and I saw to my pleasure that the golden crocuses were starting to come out, on the bank the other side of the river. Around the war memorial, the grass was pricked with tiny patches of purple as the crocuses there started to flower.

We had our lunch at a new teashop, that used to be The Bookleaf Cafe. I do love a good teashop, and it had some pretty touches, but there was definitely something missing, slightly. The service was rather chaotic but the food was good, but it wasn't quite a proper tea shop, for all that it had flowery bunting and vintage china. I don't quite know how to put my finger on it.

That afternoon, I cut out the fabric for a red and white polka dotted dress. I chose the pattern because it was marked 'very easy' and had no elastic or zips to worry about, but laying out the pattern pieces and trying to remember which ones to lay out the right way up and which ones the wrong way up was more difficult than I hoped! I think it is one of those things that will get easier with practice, but I found myself checking and double checking everything several times. Then at last, time to wind up a bobbin with thread and get stitching. That proved a little easier said than done, but I now have most of it stitched - and found I really enjoyed making darts - hopefully I can finish it this week. I have enough fabric left that I am going to make a matching headband!

I hope by the time summer is here I am good enough at using the machine to be able to make lots of simple dresses in different patterned fabrics!

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a lovely Sunday evening
Love Mimi xxx