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.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Stir-up Sunday

We're hosting Christmas for the first time this year. I'm so excited, but we have some big shoes to fill. My folks are a little hesitant - it's the first time in 35 years that they haven't hosted, so we're busy making plans to ensure that everyone has a lovely time. I love a tradition, and I know that by having it at ours it means that the usual rituals will happen in a different location, that present opening will be a little odd, that there won't be a wood burning stove crackling in the background (we'll have to improvise), that seating will be a little haphazard in the unfinished sitting room and that it will mean a drive rather than a driveway wave, but I really, really hope that everyone enjoys themselves. Now that we have the kitchen, the Christmas traditions we started in the old flat are now back on the agenda. I joined the masses on stir-up Sunday by making Hettie Potter's mincemeat recipe in Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess - it's the best peel- and suet-free mincemeat I've come across and is done and dusted in an hour. It did lead to a discussion about suet and its future. In 15 years, the only time we've bought suet was to make authentic dumplings in a beef stew. We never make steamed puds, or suet pastry and we rarely have dumplings in a stew… Do you use suet? What do you use it for?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Long time no see

Hello - how are you? Where has the last month gone? There have been work things - Grayson Perry at The National Portrait Gallery, a quick jaunt to The Arts Club on Dover Street, long days, late nights - and house things - the wall has been planted, the skirting boards are finished, the walls have had their umpteenth coat, the upstand has been restuck (ahem) and the splashback is currently being sprayed with Cornforth White. Once that's in, it's just the larder to be done and for me to make the blinds…oh yes, I'm going to have a go at making two roman blinds. The last time the sewing machine saw daylight was in 2010. And, nope, have never made a roman blind before. No pressure then. We had a jaunt to Shoreditch for the Sister In Law's 40th birthday do which made me feel ancient despite being the youngest in the room. We nipped to Brindisa for supper first (best Spanish omelette we've ever eaten - hands down, and a stonking cava that was up there with a nifty glass of proper bubbles) and cajoled our taxi driver on the way home to stop at the Tower of London to see the poppies before taking us to Waterloo. 

Grayson Perry at The National Portrait Gallery - it's poignant, insightful and free. London dwellers, don't miss out. 
Sue Perkins in the Mekong Valley - catch her on iPlayer. My inner-traveller has thoroughly enjoyed every episode. 
My Persephone subscription - finally finished book one: To Bed with Grand Music by Marghanita Laski, two more waiting in the wings while I finish my current non-Persephone read - The Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies.
My new work do dress from M&S.
Taylor Swift's 1989 - my commuting soundtrack, love it.  
Re-connecting with friends and family. My sister visited me for lunch in the City which was lovely. We're going to try and do it each time she has holiday - she's a teacher, you know the score. I'm slowly getting back in touch with close friends having been a hermit for a while, and it feels good. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A stitch in time

This beautiful piece of embroidery can be found on display in Florence, tucked away in Santa Maria Novella. We stumbled across it as we sheltered from an incredible storm back in June. There were others, all equally resplendent with their ode to nature and detailed lace work. They must have been quite a sight for those attending Mass back in the day.

Alice, for you. With thanks.