Sunday 31 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 31


I totally messed up collecting the biggest boy from the bus station this morning. I had been running through it in my mind obsessively, when I would get up, where I would park, how it would all go. I went to bed and woke up three times convinced I'd overslept, which is par for the course when I need to get up for a thing.

Eventually it was just half an hour to go. I thought I'd just doze for a bit, no sense in being ridiculously early, and THEN I OVERSLEPT. It was all to do with the clocks going back. Somehow, my alarm clock knew, and automatically put itself back one hour. I woke up at 5.30am to find a text message saying he was there. I spent a few minutes trying to work out what the time actually was. 4.30? 5.30? The coach company had also confused me by changing the times. So it was a bit of a discombobulating start to the day, which is unusual for me, my brain normally starts running through everything to be done before I'm even awake. 

Anyway, we managed a successful extraction in the end. I had to have a snooze when I got home to recover from it all. Then I took the youngest to football and it turned out it was off but no-one had been notified. He still managed to get soaked to the skin and covered in mud in the 25 minutes we were there.

I squeezed in some garden tidying this afternoon. Popped the aeoniums into the mini greenhouse along with a couple of pelargoniums, a lemongrass and a variegated lavender. I found the lavender growing under a tree back at the start of the summer. I broke off a couple of cuttings and put them in a pot in a shady spot and forgot about them. To my surprise they actually rooted. I'll be interested to see what the plant is like when it grows a bit, I've never seen a variegated lavender before. It was very satisfying to tuck everything away from the rain and the wind, all nice and snug. Against the south-facing back wall of the house, the tender things are usually okay in there.

I even oiled my shears. The garage can be a bit damp at times, so the tools don't always fare that well. Oiling something made me feel like a proper gardener. Plus, it was really nice not to be working for a while.

The dog and I encountered an eight-foot high tyrannosaurus rex on our walk this evening. It was losing a battle with a stiff breeze and the dog was more than a bit scared. We ran away for a bit, then some leaves chased us down the road so we ran away a bit more. Honestly, it's a wonder we manage to get around at all sometimes.

November tomorrow, which means the end of daily blogging for a while. I've enjoyed coming here to say hello every day and I am so happy to read your comments. Thank you for stopping by, it's very much appreciated. xx

Saturday 30 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 30


I am optimistically typing a post, knowing that there are almost no pictures on my camera. I woke up to torrential rain and the stream was overflowing on our walk this morning. Thank you for your suggestions for lighting up the dog by the way. I particularly liked Lucy's idea of making it more of a fairy light situation. I just happen to have some tiny fairy lights, and you may recall that I have around 54 AA batteries owing to some weird sort of compulsion to buy them whenever I see them on offer. I have discovered I also do this with beautiful wooden salad servers. I never use them, ever, but I see them for sale and get all emotional over the loveliness of the wood, then they end up an a rarely used drawer where I forget about them.

Thank you for your lovely comments about the book and what a great gift it was. In fact, I did drop a few hints. I started out saying things like, 'Oh look at this, a signed Philip Pullman book, what a fantastic present that would make for someone who was a huge fan and happened to have a birthday coming up,' and ended up more along the lines of, 'IF WE DO NOT BUY ONE NOW THERE WILL BE NONE LEFT AND I WANT ONE.' There is no room for subtlety or manners when it comes to a signed Philip Pullman. In fact, the main bookshop ran out while people failed to act and things could have turned very ugly if a nice independent bookshop hadn't come to the rescue.

More heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow and I am wondering if football might be called off. I was reading earlier about how bits of Wales are slipping away under the weight of all the water, it is very concerning. Let's hope the people in charge have a plan. 

Have just added the photos. The water is a bit shocking, I don't think I've ever seen it that high, and I feel as though I am saying that regularly. You can see the difference in the bit where you can walk across the stream.

Yesterday, it was just covered:

Today, disappeared:

Wishing everyone a good Sunday. The last day of the month and it does feel as though October has flown by. It's a very different month at the end compared to the beginning I think. At the start, the remnants of summer are holding on. At the end, it is suddenly dark and wet and windy. I like to think about all the bacteria and fungi and worms breaking down the fallen leaves and making the soil lovely and rich ready for next year. I am ready for the new season. Onwards. 

Friday 29 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 29

Photos from the most ordinary of days. Autumn is in full swing, with mushrooms in the garden and leaves blowing everywhere. Evening football training is in the dark and so are our evening dog walks. I am thinking of getting Bertie a light-up collar. I can't decide. On the one hand, I will be able to keep an eye on him when he is off lead and it might be safer for him on the pavement (when he is always on lead) if cars can see him. On the other hand, plastic, world's resources, dog looking like Blackpool illuminations, dog friends laughing at him. Also, he is never very keen on seeing other dogs with lights on them, they're a bit scary, so he might be scary to other dogs. If you have been around here a while you will know how I love to agonise over the simplest decisions. I have honestly been known to stand in front of the toothpaste shelves in the supermarket for five full minutes, unable to make a choice.

The postman brought me a lovely treat yesterday. The littlest boy bought me a book by Sir Philip Pullman for my birthday earlier in the month. It's a story that was originally published a number of years ago, but that has been reissued in a fancy format with lovely illustrations by Chris Wormell.

And inside...

PHILIP PULLMAN'S ACTUAL SIGNATURE. I am literally his biggest fan, so this is HUGE. I have been wandering around the house showing anyone who will listen. But they are not allowed to touch, oh no, because it is all PRECIOUS. PHILIP PULLMAN! And Chris Wormell, whose art is amazing. It's important that illustrators are always properly credited, they are missed out a bit sometimes I think. He illustrated La Belle Sauvage and The Secret Commonwealth as well, all beautifully done. So I am just happy as a clam.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 27


A little walk around the new allotments this morning. They were put there by the developer of some of the new houses. Not quite the same as the site where my allotment was, which was given to the town for people to raise their own food in 1546, but still, allotments all the same. 

Thank you for your scents and scented candle recommendations, I am ordering myself a treat or two for the lovely long dark winter evenings. 

It was mild and windy today, so I opened all the windows (still a trace of the elephant garlic about the place) and leaves blew in off of the wisteria that I am training around the window. A rather difficult neighbour moved away recently and it has left me loving my garden all the more. The new people seem lovely and I am happy as a clam. I go outside and breathe deeply and it is all totally stress-free. Happy, happy, happy. 

Although I wouldn't want you to think it is all immaculate and tidy out there or anything. There are a hundred jobs to be done and no time to do them and I am feeling horribly guilty about not Doing Things with the urchins over half term. I shall try hard to make time over the Christmas holidays. Of course, that assumes that they will want to do a thing with me. The youngest will, I am sure. I can lure him anywhere with the promise of a light snack. The middle one is generally harder to shift.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 26


There is generally something bubbling away in the kitchen around here. Kefir and sourdough and a bit of kimchi. I have a cup of kefir every morning and most days I make a loaf of sourdough as well. I use the bread machine because it's fast and easy.

I start by putting in some sourdough starter and 50:50 flour and water. I tend to use a mixture of some sort of seedy/granary flour and organic white. I put the bread machine on the 'Pizza' setting for three minutes so that it just mixes everything. That's done at lunchtime, then I leave it until 6.30am the next morning.

When I get up, I add the rest of the flour and the salt and set it back on the 'Pizza' setting, which is 45 minutes of kneading and warming and resting.

Then I take out the blade from the bread machine and make sure the dough is in a nice shape. I leave it until mid-morning when it has usually risen, then I stick it on a bake setting for 45 minutes, and hey presto. The advantage of sourdough is that I never need to bother with yeast. It can be a bit unpredictable though. Some flours don't rise much, some rise madly. Then there is the weather and how lively the starter is feeling. 

I quite like having it in a proper loaf shape rather than a flat round, it's good for sandwiches that way, and you don't get too much crust in comparison to actual proper bread. I am not a fan of the crusts.

When I use the sourdough starter, I just top the remainder up with 50:50 flour and water. You really only need a bit of the old starter. Kefir is just as easy. Strain and put the grains into organic whole milk, leave for 24 hours, job done.

I do love the transformation when things ferment and bubble. And by all accounts the microbes are really good for the gut. I'm all about the gut health, it has such a big part to play in how we feel I think, everything from mental health to a strong immune system. The sourdough doesn't contribute obviously, as it's been cooked, but the other things are brilliant. Fermenting can make vegetables more digestible as well, and release more nutrients from them. It's a good option when there's a bit of a glut of things or when things are on special offer.

I'd love to go to South Korea one day and try all the fermented pickles there. I hear they have separate fridges, just for the kimchi, brilliant. I don't much like when vegetables are pickled in vinegar, but when they're done with salt they are absolutely delicious on the whole. And easier to make than I imagined.

Monday 25 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 25


Rain, shine, rain, repeat. The dog and I timed it wrong and got soaked. If he's wet when he gets home he has to run around madly and scrabble at the floor and drag his basket somewhere new and turn it inside out before collapsing in it. It takes him all morning to get his feet just right. 

I tackled the pak choi this evening, cooking it with some of the elephant garlic. I fear I may have overdone it and now the whole house smells of garlic. I threw all the windows open for a while but it rained again so I had to batten down the hatches. Most of it got eaten, although some on the basis of, 'I tried my best'. I have added all of my clothes to the laundry mountain, I can't stand the smell of onions or garlic clinging to things. I have some lovely little bay and rosemary tea lights that are scrumptious. I think I bought them when I read that rosemary aids focus. I need all the focus I can get quite frankly. So I am trying to overpower the elephant garlic and also make my brain a little zingier.

Do you have any good essential oils or candles to recommend? I don't like anything too sweet, but I love citrussy smells and lavender and pine, that sort of thing. Candles bought online can be a bit hit and miss. I like the more natural ones as well, essential oils and nice wax, you know the sort of thing. Any recommendations, let me know.

Sunday 24 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 24

Cheating with photos taken before today. Today went like this: watch football, work, housework, walk dog, work. I am pretty much done for the day now though which feels brilliant. The house is surface clean (ish) and I even decluttered some shoes along to the shoe bank for extra bonus points. I do love Sunday evenings.

I managed a tiny bit of reading this morning as well while I was waiting for the football. I always mean to read more, but it is always the last thing on my list. To be done when everything else has been done, or when I can't do any more of the other things, which means I am generally tired and with low focus. But in the half hour before a football match starts, I sit in the car in total peace, with nothing else to do except read and it is utter bliss. Honestly, it's a wonder I even get out of the car and go and watch. 

The littlest boy was tempted along on the dog walk this evening with the promise of a tasty snack from the corner shop. Alas, there seems to be a crisp shortage, with vast expanses of empty shelves. At this rate, we will have to resort to making our own. How hard can it be? Potato, fat, salt. And it will be lower plastic usage as well I should think, although the sunflower oil comes in a plastic bottle. Has anyone made their own crisps? I have a thing I do with cashew nuts which is lovely. Put shoyu (I use Kikkoman) in a bowl and add a spoon or two of harissa paste. Mix it around, then put in a load of cashew nuts. Toss around a bit and leave to stand for a couple of hours, mixing occasionally. Spread on a baking sheet and dry in a low oven. Honestly delicious. And around 18% protein, if you happen to be building muscle mass, which some people are in this house.

Have you ever seen Eddie Hall? Petty much who we model ourselves on, even the dog, who is in fact also nicknamed The Beast. It involves eating almost all day long. I will be taking up boxing next.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 23


It's all feeling very autumnal now. Leaves swirling past the window and the last of the apples and pears falling from the trees. Is it my imagination or were there more insects around this year? I feel that there were, I noticed them particularly on the windowsills at the end of the summer. They will be heading for shelter soon no doubt. I accidentally served up a live caterpillar at teatime today under the home grown salad. He was released back into the wild with a tale to tell.

In other notable news, I had a good hair day. The thing with curly hair is, you never know what you're going to get. The other day it was so astonishingly bad, I've no idea what happened. Today, nice orderly curls. No-one saw it, unless you count the Amazon delivery man, because I worked all day, except for an early dog walk and a late, after-dark dog walk, so it was entirely wasted.

I am going to excuse myself now as I have been sat at the laptop typing words for hours and my brain is just about done for the day. Earlier I thought my 'Undo' button had disappeared and I yelled for the middle boy to immediately appear and fix it. It turned out that it was exactly where it always is. Of course, he was happy to get up and come over and help me, so that was all fine.

Friday 22 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 22


A quick foray into the city to drop the eldest at the station. I don't much like the city any more, all so busy. As I was walking around, past the odd tree surrounded by gravel and concrete, all I could think was how it was all wrong for dogs. It seems I am a dog person now. I like lots of green snuffling areas and a bit of soil. Down by the station there are acres and acres of tarmac and concrete buildings everywhere and all the traffic.

An orange light came on on the dashboard. Apparently it signifies an engine malfunction. I cannot find the right secondhand car. I hear it is not the right time to buy one, but I fear this one is on its way out. It's been absolutely brilliant, up mountains and here, there and everywhere, reliable as can be. All I ask in a car really. That and room for a dog of course.

Half term is upon us, and the urchins are mooching about without much purpose. I am planning on getting the middle one to cook a meal or two, after some very flat comments about what I'd prepared earlier. I had to ask him whether he was being sarcastic when he said, 'Delicious,' in a monotone sort of a way. It turns out he was. For a moment I had dared to dream. 

I have a load of pak choi in the fridge that I had planned to turn into a tasty Japanese dish, but quite frankly I've lost the will to carry on now. Pak choi will push him over the edge.

Thursday 21 October 2021

Blogtober 2021 :: Day 21


Sorry for missing a Blogtober day, yesterday rather got away from me somehow. And thank you for your viewing recommendations, I shall check them out. 

Knitting is back out in this house now that the weather has turned a bit nippy. I'm knitting a scarf, slowly. Every single year, I get a sudden affinity with yarn around this time. Garden away, wool out. The youngest has his alpaca blanket on the bed tonight, which is made with dark grey Drops Lima with the odd narrow stripe of colour. It's nice and heavy so it squashes him down a bit, which is no bad thing.

The eldest is off on a camping trip soon. I have been annoyingly flapping around him giving him all the advice and checking his stuff. Only one jumper??? You will need a spoon. Wash your hands before you eat anything. And when you touch anything. Don't leave the charger on overnight. Or get it wet. Or charge it when it gets wet. Or eat anything that's been hanging around in the warmth. Or drink old water. Do not set the tent on fire. Your clothes may shrink if you put them in a dryer. And on and on. I actually ran out of advice earlier which is practically unheard of. I literally couldn't think of a single thing I hadn't already said. So I said some of the earlier things again, which is fine because I'm not sure he was listening properly the first time around. I have plenty of time to run through them all again before he goes in fact.