Comfort and Joy – Sunday Sevens 18th March

Radiant and Green Travels book review

Joining Nat’s Sunday Sevens post this week…

It has been a tough six months -moving home and starting a new job, but it seems that things are getting easier – the worst is behind me – a bit like Spring things are starting to bloom. Although right now, I have woken up to a lovely covering of snow!

I have been struggling health wise – back in January I decided to try a wheat free diet – I bought two books Radiant and Green Kitchen travels. I think this decision has added to my misery- Green Travels has a wonderful recipe for chocolate cake that looks delicious but the steps to make it are very complicated – you have to use hazelnut flour that you grind yourself! I have taken the trouble to make it twice now – but my palate has not caught up – it just tasted rubbery and bland! (I do feel a rant coming on but I will save it for another post!)

wheat free peanut butter biscuits

However these little biscuits have been a life saver! My friend, P came over yesterday and I showed her how to make these – they were hot out of the oven in 10 minutes and they are gluten free.

Put 200g of peanut butter in a bowl, add 100 – 175 grams of sugar, ( I use 100g the recipe calls for 175 but I cut down all sugar in recipes) add an egg and mix. Put small balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press with the back of a fork (tip if you want them crisp flatten them down – if you like them crispy on the outside and soft in the middle leave them a bit thicker. Also use dark muscovado sugar) Bake at 180 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Weekend Baking - Lemon Drizzle cake
Lemon Drizzle Cake

It has been a week where I have needed comforting – I’ve had 9 days of constant migraine so I have focussed on home comforts to soothe myself. I love baking – it is such a nurturing comforting activity. So on Monday I made a lemon drizzle cake and a dark ginger cake. The ginger was wrapped in one of my wax cloths (you can read how they are made on my other blog) – it helped the flavour develop for a couple of days and kept it very moist.

Comfort food - Mac Cheese
Comfort food – mac and cheese

I have also been reaching for comfort food in other ways – this Mac cheese was delicious – why should it be that carbs are demonised recently? I think food is so much more than the elements it is made from. I think this week has seen me rebel because despite cutting down on wheat – I am still getting horrendous migraines!

Seasonal Celebrations
Ready to decorate for Spring

My new tree arrived this week – we have a large alcove above the fireplace and I decided to buy an artificial tree to decorate as a way of celebrating the seasons. So I have been gathering items together to decorate it for Ostara which falls on the 20th of March – and Easter just after. I am not a pagan, but I love the story behind Ostara and it seems to be more Germanic – either way, Spring is a welcome guest.

Preparations for Spring Ostara
Eggs, Daffodils, Spring

 

I have been collecting egg shells – as well as polystyrene eggs to decorate – E and I will sit down together to paint them today which should be great fun. I will also save a few for little ones when they visit – we have little chicks too.

I am relishing the glorious bright sunny daffodils in abundance outside as well as in. They are so unashamedly vibrant – which is just what is needed after the dark months of January and February.

moon gazing hare embroidery
Ostara celebration embroidery

I have been loving slow sewing – this little Moon Gazing Hare embroidery was a delight to do – you can catch up with it on my made for mi blog. I am really enjoying hand embroidery – it is similar to colouring – there is no counting just following the lines one stitch at a time. It can be done easily while watching  listening to the Television.

Mini Vintage linen Quilt Embroidery
Mini Vintage Quilt Embroidery

I am using up all old vintage linens, (I found these pieces in a charity shop) to create mini quilts that I will be posting on made for mi soon. I think the sentiment sums up my week!

ttfn x

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Summer time and the livin’ is easy

We are enjoying a wonderful warm summer here in Southern England: as soon as the sun comes out we head out to make the most of it. The beaches are busy, but the garden is quiet the balmy sun warming and browning my pale skin while a lazy breeze rustles the Roses in full bloom their delicate sent drifting along in waves while the dog rolls blissfully in the grass. 
The riper the tomatoes the deeper the colour

There is so much to treasure at this time of the year but in particular the appearance of seasonal fruits and vegetables; their freshness and piquancy is at its height.  I received some delicious vine ripened tomatoes and a flavoursome cucumber this week – just perfect for gazpacho soup.

To enjoy your own all you need is:

6 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber peeled
I large red pepper
1 large red onion
1 clove of garlic 
100ml olive oil
A splash of Red wine vinegar
A couple of teaspoons of sun dried tomato puree
A large handful of mint fresh from the garden 
(I have some sensual lemon mint that just adds a delicate note to the soup)
Just blitz it all up in a liquidiser or blender until you have a smooth consistency
Pass through the sieve to remove the seeds and skin of the peppers and tomatoes
Leave to cool in the fridge for at least an hour or if you don’t want to wait add ice and blitz again
Best enjoyed out in the garden – relaxing with a good book or the Sunday papers, 
 a nice cool glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a pitcher of Pimms at your side.
Oh yes….summer time and the living is easy!  

Small Pleasures

This is the view of my kitchen window sill, I thought I would post it here, because it was while I was doing the washing up last night that the title of this post occurred to me. 

I have been on quite a journey two years ago I was living in a large detached house with a garden and a large art studio, but when I left I spent a year living with other people. It isn’t until you have to cook in someone else’s kitchen that you begin to really appreciate your own. 

I know the view from my window isn’t rolling hills, and my kitchen is a quarter of the size I used to have, but, as I washed the dishes by hand I realised I had learned a good lesson, happiness is found in small pleasures.

I remember a time when I would stack dishes in the dishwasher it would be a chore, but now, I wash my dishes by hand as I don’t have room for a dishwasher, and it has surprised me just what a simple pleasure it is. I am connected to my beautiful things, it is only as I am putting loving care into cleaning my favourite pan, that I remember what a pleasure it is to use it. My plates are very pretty and as I wash them and wipe them clean, I am given a moment of the joy of owning such a charming pattern. I am connected with small things that make me happy. 

We are bombarded with images of large houses and big gardens, but I am happier now in my small flat than I ever was living in that large house. I don’t spend my weekends worrying about the garden, weeding and watering. Yes, I do miss sitting out in the fresh air, but if I really want to do that I can sit in the communal gardens and enjoy them while the gardener cuts the grass. It takes me no more than an hour to clean my flat, but in a large house, it never seemed to get tidy. 

That isn’t to say I don’t miss some things, like having a fresh egg from my own chickens, or having room for a big party, but on the whole, I feel happier and more content that I have in years. 


The larger bottle is de-ionised water that I have collected from my tumble dryer, and the other little bottle is vinegar, the best cleaner by far. Washing up uses less water than a dishwasher, and now because I don’t have a big house to keep clean, I often use my airing cupboard to dry most of my clothes, again, as I hang them to dry, I can appreciate them, rather than throwing them in the dryer. I love pretty bottles, it makes cleaning a pleasure, and it is magical to clean my possessions as I spent a year without them. I do enjoy having appliances that make life easier, but I think we also lose that connection with our possessions. 

More is not always better, some times it is about finding the simple pleasures.