Thursday, 26 February 2015

Kew Gardens in February

We popped to Kew Gardens on Sunday for a delightful afternoon with Mr M's goddaughter and her family. It's years since I was last there, and surprisingly Mr M's first visit. With threatening skies overhead and sleeping beds save for the crocuses, cyclamen and snowdrops, our first stop was the orchid display. The displays were really quite incredible - giant hangings heavy with orchids, luscious greenery and the odd miniature pineapple. I'd completely forgotten about the ponds with their enormous fish - little Miss H was mesmerised for at least a nanosecond.

After the orchids, we made our way to the Palm House. Such an iconic Victorian structure. As soon as you step inside, the change in temperature and steam adds to the sense that you've been transported back in time. For those visitors in the 1840s, they must have looked over that canopy imagining themselves as the famous plant hunters of the day.
The pretty detail was unexpected. As was the aquarium underneath. And the pair of chirpy robins. And the hothouse seemed to do my horrible chest infection and snotty cold the world of good. I was wrapped up in my duvet coat throughout and plied with neurofen cold and flu and benylin. It's been a week now - all incredibly boring. I'm bored of being poorly with leaden legs and unable to go to gym - it's all so tedious.
By the time we were done, the heavens had opened so we hurried to the cafe for coffee and cake. Fabulous shop - I fell in love with the tiny bee earrings by Alex Monroe. Something else to add to my birthday wish list.

It's been such a long time - I hope you're well. x

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tiny signs of Spring

At this time of year the back garden feels barren. The choking geranium has yet to stir under the apple trees and the only signs of life are bluebells, potted hellebores and our neighbours camellia. The snowdrops I moved two years ago have overcome the shock and formed little, tiny clumps of bluey-green spikes piercing the soil and fallen leaves. The tiniest of buds, white as snow, heading towards the light, before gracefully bowing their necks, heavy with their frills. I saved a special one with double petals, planting it in one of my favourite pots. Last year saw only foliage, but this year there is one solitary bud.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Slowly but surely

I lost January. It melted away like the early morning snow that we apparently had on Saturday. Life has slowed - sleep is my friend. Each week I feel a little bit more like me - I'm quietly back at work. It's a little exhausting being bright and perky - I can do it for a couple of hours before feeling wiped out. I wish there was a quick fix but time is the only healer. I'm aiming for the 'F' in February to stand for fighting fit and flowers. I've been dropping hints for a bouquet from Petalon - do you follow them on Instagram (@petalon_flowers)? Isn't Huxley adorable - and HUGE!

Monday, 12 January 2015

A week of convalescing

It's taken a week to start to get a sense of normality back following the donk on my head. Mild concussion was confirmed last Monday by my local walk in centre following a futile attempt to work. Slurred speech and wonky balance were hardly conducive to the workplace. Working from home was then attempted for a couple of days before I officially gave up and crawled into bed for the day on Thursday. Friday was a little better, Saturday a little worse. Yesterday though I definitely started to feel human again. The sun was out, I worked through some chores, picked up my camera and began to feel in control.

As silly an accident as it was - I had no idea that the side effects could be quite so extreme. Slurred speech, dulled reactions, nausea, exhaustion, wobbliness, forgetfulness. It's going to be a while before I'm 100%. Another reminder that life is precious, something that is easily forgotten when focusing on work and deadlines and keeping your job. I've lost count of the number of times I've worked when I should have been in bed. The line between home and work has blurred with blackberries, the Good app (I think it's the opposite) and the ability to log on from home. For once, albeit slightly slow on the uptake, I have had to put me first rather than work and feel all the better for it. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Cookbook time

The first weekend of 2015. Christmas put away, leftovers finally thrown out, pine needles hoovered up, wreaths dismantled, dinner with friends and a trip home to belatedly celebrate my sister's birthday. Oh, and a mild concussion from ricocheting off the towel rail - not fun - followed by slamming my finger in the kitchen whirly carousel cupboard that evening. It was at that point that Mr M removed me from chopping duties and sat me down...

The green herby goodness above is all part of the foodie plan. We've fallen into a routine which gives us the perfect excuse* not to go to the gym during the week because we have to cook. So, our foodie resolution is to try new recipes at the weekend, and to go for simple, light suppers during the week - soup, scrambled egg, omelette, stir fry - anything quick and not too heavy. The healthy sludge above - coriander, parsley, mint, white wine vinegar and rape seed oil - has been stirred through a vat of couscous and peas, and is now sat in the fridge ready for lunch and easy dinners. The new recipe for Saturday was Pork Larb, loosely based on the Chicken Larb in Donna Hay's  Fresh and Light cookbook. Mr M then turned the leftover pork into stonking cheese on toast for a quick and light supper on Sunday. I've collected some new recipe books over the last month including Jamie's Comfort FoodHemsley + HemsleyAngela HartnettTom Kerridge and Agnes Jekyll's Kitchen Essays. I'm enjoying browsing, planning, getting inspiration. 

I'm also on a bit of an economy drive - breakfast at home before work (saves £3.95), taking lunch to work and upping the fruit and water intake - because the amount I currently spend is criminal. A soggy sandwich, bottle of water and a small pot of fruit will set you back almost £8 from certain high street cafes. 

It's all about changing the routine. I want to get healthier, need to get healthier - fitter in body, heart and mind. The less time we spend cooking and clearing away during the week, the more time there will be to do me and us stuff - blogging, creating, talking, moving, reading. Little steps. 

Are you making any changes to your routine this year? Have you tried any of the recipes in Hemsley + Hemsley?

*my new excuse is the concussion, but I think that's allowed…I'll go once the bruising has gone down and my balance has returned. 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The final slice of Christmas

The last slice of my first Christmas cake on one of the new cake plates. Part of the Fable range by Royal Doulton, the tree design is wonderfully Faraway Tree, don't you think? So easy to make - no mixed peel for me but lashings of fruit and dark chocolate, oh and some ground almonds, all of which took the edge off the traditional Christmas cake. Made two weeks before Christmas, I didn't bother feeding it - thankfully it was nice and moist. Golden marzipan and Royal icing finished it off. I did make some decorations, but we didn't even get close to eating it on Christmas Day so there was no ta-daar moment. It was quietly carved up and wrapped in foil for people to take home. Recipe from BBC Good Food can be found here

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

A new year, a new list of resolutions, a new bright blog header. This year is all about health. Mind and body. Mr M and I bought each other Jawbone UP24 bands for Christmas - which has naturally triggered our frightful competitiveness - who can get the most steps each day, who slept the longest. So far, good fun - and the incentive I need to get my super size derriere up and moving all the way to the gym. We were also bought a juicer - which I'm looking forward to experimenting with.

Something that Mr M and I do each year on New Year's Day is to compile a list of all the foodie things that we want to try - this year I want to nail bread and roast dinners. Mr M does the lion share of the cooking here which means that he can pretty much cook with his eyes closed, whilst I follow recipes to the letter. He cooked a marvellous Christmas dinner - the roast potatoes were stonking. The canap├ęs above were so easy to make with beetroot juice and a dash of gin - the blinis were made using Sarah Raven's recipe.

Right, this is all making me hungry. The much needed fry up at lunch feels an age away, so it must be time to raid the fridge and rustle up a little something for supper. Which just leaves me to wish you a Happy New Year - may 2015 be healthy and prosperous. It's good to be back.