Thursday 22 February 2018

The whippet and the hare

I am all about the fermenting at the moment. Nothing is safe. There's yoghurt, kefir, celery, kimchi and sourdough. I'm a fermentation maniac. Lynda of Sultanabun has an excellent post here if you'd like to know more about the benefits. Gut health is linked to so many other things, possibly including allergies, blood sugar stability and inflammation, all of which I find quite fascinating. I am all for treating things naturally where possible. Prevention and all that. The littlest boy has some allergies sometimes, and my blood sugar levels can be a bit wobbly at times. I'm hoping an increase in fermented things will help.

It's at this time of year that I shall start to miss the allotment I think. The possibility of all that fresh organic food. But I'm fairly overwhelmed with everything anyway, I do know it was the right choice to let it go to someone else.

Yesterday was a case in point. I just about survived a ridiculous morning with every possible drama, you know the kind of thing, one of those days when everything goes wrong, when the littlest boy's school rang to say he'd cut his leg. The rest of the day was spent at children's A&E in the city getting stitches. And that was the end of Wednesday. No big deal, I'm happy I was around for him, but honestly, sometimes the days just seem to evaporate.

His leg is fine, but he did take a big chunk out of it leaping at a metal edged picnic bench in some complicated parkour manoeuvre. If I've told him once... Someone suggested to him that he probably wouldn't do it again. He said he thought he might well.

I never fail to be grateful for the medical care that's available here. And for everything really. As I said goodnight to the children tonight I felt very aware of the children in Syria. There aren't any words really, but my thoughts are there, and I try never to forget how much we have.

Half term was good. I even managed to read a book. This is me at the skatepark. It was so lovely to sit and read in the afternoon, honestly, undreamt of luxury.

The book was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I really enjoyed it, as I know many of you have too.

Back to the grindstone now though. I am taking a little hour this evening to write this, but otherwise I'm pressing on with the freelance writing malarkey. Onwards and hopefully one day upwards. I live in hope.

I went to the biggest boy's school earlier for GCSE options evening. I am trying hard to let him do what he wants to do rather than what I want him to do. It doesn't come naturally though. The bottom line may be, does he do what his friends are doing or what his mother tells him to do. I shall try and rein myself in.

The puppy is sleeping blissfully as I write. He went down to the river this morning with his whippet friend. She was the whippet and he was the hare and a lot of really, really fast running was involved. He loves it, but in a slightly hysterical, whites-of-the-eyes sort of way, and afterwards he has to have a lie down.

Hope everything is well with all, and that you are feeling more whippet than hare.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Snowdrops and mist

Thank you for all of your recipe ideas re feeding a French teenager, I am suitably reassured. I have also embraced paprika in all its forms, and now have hot and smoked which do have a bit more going on. The smoked reminds me of lapsang souchong. I bought some of that the other day too, it took me straight back to years ago, Before Children, when I used to get home from work, make a mug of it and sit and write. Days of disposable income and free time, happy nostalgic sigh. It's amazing how a scent can instantly evoke a memory isn't it.

I am currently wrestling with website construction for two writing websites. There are moments of deep black despair peppered with the occasional dazzling triumph of something actually working. Technology is a real roller coaster of emotion, fury and elation in very short succession. It feels unhealthy.

On the subject of which I have given up cheese for Lent. I was a vegan for 25 years, but lately I seem to be eating ALL the cheese. Blue cheese, crumbly cheese, hard cheese covered in rind, creamy cheese, Cheddar cheese and a personal favourite, the sort of Lancashire cheese that isn't white a crumbly but is just DELICIOUS. I think we're on day 2 of Lent. Don't worry, I will have calmed down by next week and won't feel the need to name all the cheese and talk about it.

Last year I gave up puddings and sweet things. I felt so much better for not eating sugar that I continued it all year, except for the odd slice of birthday cake. It was the middle boy's birthday the other day and I made him Nigella's ice-cream cake. There are no words for how sweet that tastes if you haven't eaten sugar for a year. I had to have a lie down with a damp flannel over my face afterwards.

We've been keeping busy here. That's dog bed stuffing in case you were wondering.

But hearing tales of other puppies, we are happy in the knowledge that it could be worse. Dear little dogs, they do keep us on our toes.

Hope all is well out there. Hang on all, spring is but a breath away.

Monday 5 February 2018

Send help

Reading and knitting, it must be winter. I do so love winter. Alicia put it well when she said, 'Nothing out there needs me.' I rewound my yarn which the puppy had messed up and I've started knitting again late at night when my brain is good for little else. Before, I was trying to knit with two great messy piles of wool and it put me off, having to do battle with it every time I did a couple of rows. Order is been restored now though and I'm away.

I'm reading Into The Water by Paula Hawkins. Not sure if I like it. I'm a bit confused to be honest. I don't always concentrate enough when I read and I lose track of who all the people are and what they've done. I could do with a list of them at the front of the book for reference. I've also been reading Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy, about productivity. I often find myself gazing out the window thinking about productivity. I am hoping Brian will help me with the whole concentrating and focusing thing.

I happened to be passing the churchyard today and I remembered to take some photos of the snowdrops. The winter sky looked lovely above the castle, all birds in bare trees and bunches of mistletoe.

There's an overgrown corner of the graveyard and every year it's covered in snowdrops. I just had the little camera with me, but you get the idea.

One last month of winter to enjoy before the things out there start needing me.

On another note, does anyone understand what the deal with paprika is? The biggest boy needed some for school cookery. It really tastes rather blah to me. Am I missing something? Do I not have the requisite taste buds? Fancy chefs are always waxing lyrical about smoked paprika and spiciness and warmth and on and on. I'm just not getting anything. It's a mystery. I don't understand parsley either. Coriander yes, delicious. Parsley, not feeling it. I have a feeling it's all too subtle for me. I need something unambiguous like a bit hit of lemon or a thuggish dried tomato.

We have a French student coming to stay later in the year. I fear I will have to up my game. Oven chips and baked beans will not cut the mustard. He has already written to say that in France the plates are very good. We have taken it to mean the food on the plates, although of course they may have very fine china as well.

I am in dire need of impressive yet simple recipes to appeal to the sophisticated French palate. Send help. But nothing tricky that will tip me over the edge (remembering of course that I permanently inhabit a place very near the edge as it is). I have paprika, if that helps.