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New shoes, veg plot, book reviews, my Sunday Sevens – 16th September

I can wear shoes again!

September and new shoes seem to be forever connected in my memory! Not only did I spend my childhood years proudly walking along pavements enjoying the September sunshine with new shoes but then went through my years of parenting subjecting my children to the same pleasure!

I will admit, like a lot of women, I have so many shoes – most of them of the high heeled beautiful but cruelly uncomfortable variety. One of the lovely things about getting older is that you get a little wiser – so I find myself buying ‘comfortable shoes’ but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be fun!

My new shoes are momentous -because it is the first pair I have been able to wear since my major foot surgery! I cannot tell you how joyous it feels to wear shoes again –  I am beginning to get my life back! Not only that – I am enjoying long hot showers where I am not dangling one cling film wrapped foot out of the way of the water! Simple pleasures indeed.

On a practical level – these shoes from Gracosy are sublime – the soul is so cushioned my feet just sink in – no uncomfortable jarring. On a sustainable level, my last pair of clogs lasted me over ten years and were regrettably thrown away a few months ago, when the sole finally wore though. I like clogs because they are so easy to slip on and off. I did see my foot consultant this week with a little trepidation –  he thoroughly approved of them!  If you fancy a pair of your own you can buy them from Amazon.

 

Tea Time

The Bake off is back – I do love watching it – I think Channel 4 have done a good job of continuing the format well. I do admire the bakers – it is hard enough baking but under those conditions – they are inspirational!

I adore toasted tea cakes – but since discovering I have a dairy intolerance I have been a little scared of eating things – so I decided to try Paul Hollywood’s recipe for hot cross buns – and oh my goodness they are delicious! Of course I just added currants to the recipe rather than the crosses and drizzled them with warmed honey rather than sugar syrup. Luckily replacing cows milk and butter with Goats Milk and butter has improved my health! I am not sure if you can see – but the butter was melting on the tea cake when I took this photo – they were still scrumptiously warm from the oven!

little cinnamon buns

E is not a fan of currants – he seems to only tolerate them in Christmas pudding, so I used half the recipe to make cinnamon buns – rolling the dough like a Swiss roll with a mixture of cinnamon, mixed spice, brown sugar and toasted hazelnuts. I put it in a cake tin to rise and this is how it turned out! It was a huge success!

I did not take any pictures of the second batch to show you – the whole process went really well until the baking – where I managed to burn the whole batch and sadly had to resign all the hard work to the bin! I have the attention span of a gnat… I cannot count the number of times the smoke detector has reminded me that I have something cooking – so I have now invented a rule – I never leave the kitchen when something is baking or boiling – our diet has improved from carbon to edible!

Veg Italia book review

I have been pescatarian for over a year –  an interesting journey full of – if I am being entirely honest, an experiment in inedible food. When I was first trying to discover what food was causing problems – I tried lots of vegan recipes – they were expensive and quite frankly, inedible. I don’t want to eat another meal with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. (White potatoes cause arthritis)  I can’t bring myself to eat any more peanut butter – (Veganism seems to use it for everything!) I cannot swallow anything made with ‘wheat free flour’ – it dries my mouth out, my body simply can’t physically swallow it!

So I have relaxed a little – I am not completely free of migraines but I am having them less. My arthritis symptoms have also reduced – but there is good research about the Mediterranean diet is healthy. A ninety nine year old I knew told me his lack of arthritis was down to having olive oil every day – he was walking proof in my mind and at 99 he had been around longer than any of our so called experts! – I am moving away from the ‘alternative’ foods and more about cooking from scratch.

I bought Gino’s Veg Italia recipe book secondhand – what a refreshingly delight it is! every recipe is tantalisingly tempting. We have had an excellent week – home made pizza, creamy mushroom gnocchi and roasted vegetables. (I think, my rule about not leaving the kitchen has improved my results immensely!) Thankfully the recipes are easy to follow and don’t require a whole heap of gadgetry and tins and jars of stuff! I’ve tried gnocchi before – (with sweet potatoes – too sweet) but Gino’s recipe was simple, created not only edible but delicious food! There is a recipe for home made pasta that doesn’t require a pasta machine or slavish dedication to duty!

A little piece of heaven

If you want to know what your heart’s desire is, notice that gut wrenching stab of jealousy next time because it guides you to what is missing in your life. It is more authentic than the fleeting desire to make origami napkins from your Pinterest feed.

I will admit to having pangs of envy – when I have seen posts of home grown vegetables. I have pined for outdoor space since I moved a couple of years ago. It is odd though, how I got so focussed on my dream of having a garden of my own that it is easy to overlook what is just round the corner. This little plot of land is in a neglected part of the grounds where I live. No-one loves it and while it might be very overgrown and sloping, it catches a lot of sun. So  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to grow our own veg!

September might not be the best month to begin – but I noticed a dark patch under large trees that barely gets any light – might just be the ideal spot for a mushroom patch,  we are just coming into mushroom season. Ever since I went on a camping trip with a Bear Grills guy who took us to pick field mushrooms for breakfast – I have longed to repeat the process. Those mushrooms felt like food from the Gods, not just because they were fresh but because they were the work of my own hands!

The Law of Angels book review

Oh joy of joys to discover a new author and a while new series of books! I purchased Law of Angels by Cassandra Clark from a charity shop while we were on holiday in Porlock Vale. The mix of historical medieval fiction – a daring nun, mystery and suspense was a temptation I could not resist! How glad I am that I give in easily to temptation – especially in book form – this was a pleasure to read! Little did I realise that this is the third in the series – but the story holds its own.

Cassandra immerses you in medieval society much easier than all the historical books I have been ploughing through recently. Set in York during the days running up to the Corpus Christi – I felt I was discovering more about the period while being thoroughly entertained.  A nun might seem an odd choice for a gun-ho sleuth but it was quite a liberating role in the 13th Century. Hildergard is her own woman, I liked her as a character – she is just really nosy if I am honest a bit of a Jane Marple with a little more daring do! Hildergard’s home is burnt to the ground, she is kidnapped twice,  ends up close to two terrorist bombings, and still manages to save York’s Mayor from being blown up. Its all well told with enough action and pace that kept the pages turning well past 10 o’clock!  (with my attention span that is praise indeed!) In order to avoid the usual book hangover, I ordered the first in the series when I was just over half way through.

I am determined to read more – I just have to gag the Calvinistic Shrew Mildred,  my inner critic,   nagging me that reading is time wasting… I should be doing so many other things.

It is reading before going to sleep that has really helped with my insomnia – so I am truly thankful to Cassandra Clark!

 

 

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Sunday Sevens – post op and enchanted convalescence

Post op

I went in to have foot reconstruction surgery two weeks ago; I suffered osteonecrosis when I was a teenager and had radical surgery, over twenty years of dancing and walking around left my foot in a very sorry state – and I am so grateful to the surgeon and hospital staff for their wonderful care. It is marvellous to live in a country where you get the health care you need without having to worry about the costs involved. So I find myself having to sit down and recover – which is harder than I imagined!

yellow gerberas in blue vase

E picked me up from hospital with the most beautiful bouquet of sunny yellow blooms, Gerberas and Yellow Roses to brighten the bedroom and here they are two weeks later still looking bright and beautiful. I love the contrast of the blue vase – and our home has the most delightful French doors that give such a great soft light for photography.

My lovely place

Recovery is so delightful – I finally had time to do a little painting – and what a beautiful spot to paint! I managed two canvasses: one was a still life of tulips I had photographed, once again the combination of cobalt and yellow the other was a fun butterfly using various shades of glitter. I managed to get most of the glitter on the canvass but was a little bit sparkly for a few days!

Sweet peas and summer hat

These delightful sweet peas were a get well soon gift and I am so humbled to receive so much kindness from friends and neighbours. Get well soon cards have overflowed from the mantle shelf to the dresser and visitors have been very frequent and welcome. It has surprised me just how hard it is to be on the receiving end of so much kindness, but it has certainly aided my recovery and made me feel appreciated.

food journal

This lovely bowl of fruit was a welcome thoughtful gift – the apricots were delicious. I am struggling with my diet at the moment – since discovering lactose is triggering my migraines I have been migraine free for a while. However, I forgot to mention it to a dear friend who invited us round for tea and cake – only to discover she had made a full afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones cream and jam! I was too embarrassed to ‘make a fuss’ I thought it would be ok, but the following day I suffered one of the worst bouts of migraine and sickness I had in years. So much so that it has made me frightened to eat a lot of things.  I now keep a food journal which has helped me track some of the foods – but I am still having digestive problems. I know that I was given strong antibiotics during my surgery so have been using probiotics.

chocolate parcel

Of course I could not live without chocolate – and the current trend for Veganism has made this a little easier as well as the food labelling laws. So my weeks of indulgence included a package from Montezuma’s – organic, dairy free chocolate. This is sublime and I find I don’t need to eat that much to satisfy the craving now and then. I’ve since discovered that there is a vegan chocolate factory not far from where I live! So it is on my ‘to visit list’ once I am mobile again.

Little embroidery

I am enjoying enchanting afternoons spent listening to radio plays while stitching – my winter embroidery is coming along – I have also found time to do some much needed hand sewing repairs to my clothes. It is such a calm, meditative practise that is fast becoming my preferred method. The sewing machine is not as accurate nor is it quite so relaxing.

IMG_3075

Mr Barnykins has been really enjoying his time with a wonderful local dog walker – I think she gets far more fuss when she arrives than I do, but then I am here all the time at the moment. I think he is trying to pretend it was someone else who is responsible for the inside snowstorm!

Happy Sunday.

 

Decluttering, Decluttering list of items, Rhonda Hetzel

Less is more

Around six months ago I also become aware that my chaotic approach to finances, meant I had very little idea where my money was going, and I was slowly sliding into debt. It took a great deal of courage to finally face my situation and it was worse than I imagined, but it felt liberating to be in control. It wasn’t until I was out shopping one day and I realised that I could buy something if I wanted it, without the huge stack of guilt on my shoulders about buying – it was wonderful to know that I had money to pay for it, rather than hoping.

I read Julia Camerons – Prosperous Heart,

Prosperous Heart

She was very open and honest about her journey, it made me feel that I was not the only one! that was a huge weight off my shoulders.

The book is very good, it gives workable steps so that I felt I was moving forward. She discusses the concept of getting the right payment for artistic endeavour and helps you to evaluate your spending ‘personality traits’.

One of the big revelations to me was that I could not afford the ‘bigger things’ I desired, so instead I was compensating by purchasing lots of little things, especially when it was ‘charity’ shops. Yet, if I stopped these purchases and gave myself time to consider what I really wanted, and why I wanted things, I could actually afford these ‘bigger’ things. I felt as if everything was within my reach, more importantly I began to feel blessed. I also used affirmations to enforce the belief that the universe provided for all my needs and wants.

The first month was really tight, I had overspent the month before so had to manage on a tiny budget but I was determined to do so. Instead of focussing on the ‘lack’ I began to pay attention to what I had.

I live in a fair size two bedroom flat and when I moved in I was creating a new home having been living with friends in the interim. There was a lot of space, but there were a lot of boxes it took me six months before I finally emptied the last box. In the three years I have lived here, my magpie tendencies has meant my little home has become full of ‘suff’.

lots of stuff

I spent a Sunday afternoon going through my larder, my freezer and my fridge – as I made my list I began to realise that I had a great deal of food and could manage to feed myself for quite some time without needing to do a big shop. I also realised that I was still in the habit of buying for a family even though I lived on my own.

When I began to look around my home all the stuff was making things difficult, to get a saucepan out of the cupboard I had to remove other pans, cooking pots everything in my home was like that. I began to question why I had so many pans when I only really used one or two. Since then I have been slowly, systematically, working my way through my cupboards and bookshelves – considering if I really need it. Once I realised just how valuable my space was, I began to make decisions about wether or not something deserved a limited resource.

glass and china

I had a whole glass cabinet full of so many glasses it was difficult to find the right one. I ended up taking two huge boxes to a local Charity shop. Having room to display the items that pleased me the most gave me immense satisfaction.

My bookshelves were full of books that I had read and would not likely read again, so I took those away and now I buy kindle books because they don’t take up any room.

Its a slow process, one that I do when I feel the moment strikes, I’ll do a shelf – or a cupboard and then rest. If you do too much its overwhelming.

I had three cake stands so I listed a glass cake stand on a Facebook group, offering it for free, and spoke to a fabulous lady miles away who was very much looking forward to owning one. She was arranging for it to be picked up so after finding a big enough box I realised that I could wrap it up in some fabric – I no longer wanted rather than bubble wrap. (We both enjoyed sewing!) and I also found a three tier cake stand that was also a duplicate and that also fitted in the box. It gave me a great deal of pleasure to be able to give things away, knowing that they would be valued and appreciated.

I have been reading around this subject and have found some other wonderful inspiration that has helped me enormously.

The simple Life

This is a wonderful book, Rhonda creates a warm cosiness about her lifestyle, contentment drips off the page. It made me yearn to have chickens and a veg patch. She has links in the ebook to her online community which is full of more great advice and like minded folks.

There are some very good questions that help you to re-evaluate what is important.

Well worth a read you can get it on amazon for as little as 60p.

 

It seems that clutter is endemic according to the BBC and it is affecting our health. I think that there is more to it than merely space, its stressful when you have to unpack a cupboard to get something out, or that you cannot fit all your items in your cupboards. I believe it affects our energy flow as well, living in a cluttered space does not give us the ‘white space’ to relax in.

I would be interested to hear what you think!

In the meantime I shall create a list of things that I have given away.

ttfn x

So far:

2 boxes of glassware

1 glass cake stand

1 Three tier china cake stand

1 Vax upright hoover

A set of six willow pattern dinner plates and bowls

A potato ricer

Two carrier bags of reading books