Monday, January 30

{ my january }

January is very nearly over.  The first month of the year successfully, and quietly, navigated.  The year started with resolutions to last for the next few years, and I will be very honest in saying that since I published that post precious little has happened to make anything in that list happen.  Lets just say that getting the list done was January's contribution to the list, and lets hope I won't be writing the same thing at the end of February.

So how did I spend January?

{ reading }
I started working my way through Nigel Slater's second volume of Kitchen Diaries, made a start on "Golden Hill", which was then put aside for Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic". This is not the kind of book I usually read, I love escaping into the world of fiction, and I still can't quite remember what prompted me to order this from the library.  But I'm so glad I did.  It's a magical book, which shares Gilbert's view on living a creative life.  Through her opinions, thoughts, anecdotes of her own experiences and of others, she lends a unique perspective on dealing with the mysteries of creativity.  A thoughtful read for anyone who has ever struggled with the fearfulness that seems to accompany most creativeness. So back to "Golden Hill".  I tried and I hate to be defeated by a book, but I also believe there are too many books out there to spend time reading books you're not enjoying.  And so, once again, that was put aside. So I end the month having just started "Tony and Susan" by Austin Wright, the book that the film "Nocturnal Animals" was based on.  In spite of having seen the film, so already having an idea of the plot, after reading the first few chapters I have a feeling this one will draw me in, and will find me reading way further into the night than I really should.

{ baking }
Unlike last year, this January didn't bring with it any aspirations of sugar free eating, though I like to think there has been enough vegetables, good grains & pulses digested to off set the chocolate hob nob habit that was adopted part way through the month.  These chocolate hob nobs from Top With Cinnamon are just a little too easy to put together, and FYI the recipe does scale down well, if you weren't feeling that your resolve could take having twenty or so of these in the house at any one time.  I also discovered that they are just as nice, actually make that a little nicer, by swapping the golden syrup for maple syrup.  I'm not going to pretend for a single second that this makes them any healthier, but thought it was worth mentioning.  When I wasn't baking up yet another small batch of biscuits, it was Smitten Kitchen's everyday chocolate cake that was occupying my cake tin.  This calls for a little more patience;  an hours baking time, versus the wonderfully short ten minutes for those biscuits.  But worth the wait it is.  My tip, switch half the buttermilk for strong espresso coffee. 

{ watching }
* sigh* La La Land.  This is a film that I went to praying that it would live up to it's hype.  And it really did.  It is whimsical, magical, and lyrical.  It made me smile from the very opening scene.  I still find myself humming the tunes, I still sigh when I read that a friend has gone to see it, I would still love to see it once more on the big screen, and I now want to learn to tap dance!

{ visiting }
Just before it closed I managed to see the final "Fashioning a Reign" exhibition at Windsor Castle.  Having seen both the one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the one at Buckingham Palace last year, both of which were a delight to visit.  I have a bit of a soft spot for the beautiful ballgowns and fashions from the Mid Century and in particular to see the Queen's wedding dress and coronation dress, with the workmanship and detail that went into them, was wonderful.  Almost as delightful as the exhibition at Windsor, were the sweetest cottages on the estate, that I would have loved to have had a peek inside!  And there was more Mid Century loveliness at the Josef Frank exhibition which opened at the Fashion & Textile Museum this weekend.  After walking through the cold, grey, London streets, to arrive at this wonderfully colourful building and walk around gazing on bright blooms, paintings and prints, was a lovely way to spend a Saturday.

And now for a quiet end to the month.  To make the most of the last days of January and a little planning for the new month ahead.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, January 27

{ happy friday }

{ 1 } The studious.  By the very talented C├ęcile Hudrisier.  Unashamedly my new artist crush!
{ 2 } Little Pear shelf.  By the wonderfully named Red Hand Gang.  Can I join your gang?
{ 3 } Flat Zoo.  By the very playful Owl & Dog Playbooks.  Fun and creative reading books.
{ 4 } And this is a perfectly cosy reading nook.
{ 5 } And these are perfectly pretty classic books.
{ 6 } My head has been full of butterflies with the WondrousNature brief for MIID Winter School.
{ 7 } Wondrous Nature in embroidered form from Cinder & Honey. * sigh *
{ 8 } Be brave enough to say goodbye so you can find your new hello.
{ 9 } I feel I need this luxe lap blanket in my life. * sign *
{ + } When someone introduces a recipe with the words " the most delicious thing i know how to make " you know you really need to make it too!

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, January 25

{ my funny valentine }

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Valentine's Day will soon by upon us, and whether you love it, like it, tolerate it, or despise it, there seems to be a card and a gift for you out there.  This seems to be celebrated with a lot more fun and tongue in cheek humour than it used to be, although i'm afraid the whole ' Palentine's ' can quite happily pass me by.  I can't decide if it's an attempt at making us single girls feel less alone on the 14th, or if it's just a shameful ploy to squeeze even more pennies out of us all.

That aside here are a few of my favourite funny valentines for you to lose your heart over, just in case you haven't yet bought that special someone a special something.

{ have a lovely day }

Monday, January 23

{ apricot, blueberry & coconut baked oats }

I feel I should thank Bumpkin Betty for saving me from myself this month.  So far this year I've had one week of eating mince pies every day; the following week saw me develop a chocolate hob nob habit that was in danger of getting quite out of hand;  and last week was the week of chocolate everyday cake, which lived up to it's name and was indeed eaten every day.

But then I remembered that I hadn't yet baked anything for BBbakingClub yet this month, and hallelujah for a theme that asked us to bake something nutritious. 

Several things popped into mind;  this sugar-free carrot cake I'd spotted on BBCfood; this oh so pretty clementine and pomegranate cake by Henrietta Inman, and then whilst browsing all the other delights on her site I spotted this recipe for Baked Apricot, Almond & Honey Porridge.  

Porridge is my absolute go-to breakfast in these colder months, which given that I live in the Uk, is pretty much September through to June.  That's a lot of mornings and a lot of porridge, and I love mixing it up with lots of different variations, including baked porridge, which is so ridiculously easy, quick, and super super comforting.

This is the perfect recipe for using up whatever you happen to have in the fruit bowl & the pantry, choosing combinations which tickle your tastebuds that morning.  I prefer to soak my oats overnight, whether I'm baking them, or just making regular porridge.  It makes them so soft and easier to digest and I find my porridge is just that little bit more creamy.  I've used a combination of rolled & barley oats, but again, use whatever you have to hand;  rye would add a wonderful nuttiness, or you could switch in oatmeal for a finer texture.  Ditto with the milk;  almond, cashew, coconut, soy, or just old regular cows milk would work.  Oh, and my suggestion of adding maple syrup to taste really is down to your taste buds.  I tend not to add additional sweetener to my porridge as I find the nut milks & fruit make it sweet enough for me, but do add a drizzle or more in to suit you.

I pinched the idea of the apricots, but paired them with blueberries, for that burst of colour, and with fresh coconut which had been coarsely grated.  I love that coconuts have become so readily available, and have to say my tiled kitchen floor comes into it's own for breaking those tough nuts open;  drain the water from the nut, wrap in a tea towel, and slam it down onto a hard surface of your choosing.  This is incredibly therapeutic by the way, the perfect way for venting any frustrations of the day!

The perfect cosy, comforting breakfast { for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere }
{ and for those of you in the South } enjoy it cold, with greek yogurt and fresh fruit

You can take a look at all the other bakes for this months' baking club over on the facebook page, where you can also join up & join in.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, January 20

{ happy friday }

{ 1 } Simply lovely Nellystella dress.  Styled beautifully by hello1234.
{ 2 } Simply lovely SkirtNo.206.  Styled beautifully by Little Kin Journal
{ 3 } Simply lovely new find.  Beautiful homeware by Camomile London.
{ 4 } Beautiful bootees in the making.  By Sarah.
{ 5 } Melancholic portraits of lonely houses.  Captured by Manuel Pita.  
{ 6 } Embroidered miniatures of pretty houses.  Embroidered by House Wren Studio.
{ 7 } Illustrated pictures of fairytale houses.  Drawn by Federico Babina
{ 8 } Hope.
{ 9 } Love this collection of jello moulds. And, love the accompanying caption:
Old jello moulds: 'Buy me.' Me: 'No.' Old jello moulds: 'Sad face.' Me: 'Ok".
{ + } This cake has snack in it's title.  It's almost giving you permission to eat it all day.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, January 13

{ happy friday }

{ 1 } That Friday the 13th feeling. Summed up here.
{ 2 } Cats are always a good idea. Adorning your tights.
{ 3 } Or. Adorning your wellies.
{ 4 } Dream sweet dreams under this mobile.
{ 5 } A January dream list. From the Simple Things.
{ 6 } Catch your dreams. With a homemade dream catcher.
{ 7 } Chase your dreams. With a Winter Workshop.
{ 8 } All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. So true.
{ 9 } Time spent collecting beautiful things is never wasted.
{ + } Patiently waiting for the recipe for these madeleines. Madeleines it's been too long.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, January 11

{ a little Greenery & Pantone's colour of 2017 }

{ clockwise from top right // 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 }

look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better // albert einstein

Pantone's colour for 2017 feels just right for this year.  A colour of freshness, newness, Spring time, things that are natural, grown, found.  A colour to embrace the movement towards being mindful, of seeking moments not things.  It brings to mind the florals of Liberty, it has nostalgic qualities of a childhood spent outside in gardens & parks, it brings with it a " Darling Buds of May " quality.  Am I being a little sentimental?  Perhaps, but I also feel it's an colour full of optimism, of embracing all the good things of times past, rather than continuing to march forever forward with no glimpse of a backwards glance.

{ have a happy day }

Monday, January 9

{ fifty before 50 }

Last year was somewhat lacking in resolutions, aims and goals of any sorts.  The year had a transitionary feeling to it, not quite the laissez faire attitude I alluded to in my ' this year ' post, more of a case of counting down the days to reach that first day of the new year, a day when, I hoped, that spark that had been missing, suddenly returned.  And strangely on the last day of last year, it did almost feel as if the weight of such a lacklustre year had started to lift.  The anticipation of that clock ticking over into a brand new year lifted my mood in a way nothing else had seemed to.  

And so, here we are, through the year that most of us would like to forget, and into the, well, I'd say shiny new year, but as I gaze out of the window the weather is decidedly less than shiny.  And yet, my mood is still upbeat, hopeful, excited even, as to what the next days and months might hold.

I still smile when I read my resolutions post from 2015, even though that one elusive goal of opening a shop is still proving to be elusive.  Forgivable in the whirlwind year that was 2015, not so forgivable for last year.  This year's goals are slightly different.  Last year I hit my mid 40's { I think a lot of last year was spent wondering how on earth that had actually happened } and that magic number of 50 is hovering in the, now, not so distant future.  When I was approaching 30 I was too busy thinking work was the be all and end all to even contemplate a 30 before 30 list.  Ditto on the approach to 40.  But looking back on all the things I ticked off in 2015 started me thinking about a fifty before 50 list.

Sitting down with pen and paper I managed to rattle off twenty things quite quickly.  Then I read over those twenty, and it soon became clear that what I was actually writing was a ' fifty things to do when I win the lottery '.  It's very easy to get carried away when writing bucket lists like this.  I have read lists that run into the hundred's, one's that are all about pushing yourself to the limit physically, and ones that have a humorous touch.  There are things that seem to crop up time and time again { run, travel, swim with dolphins, learn a language } and read some that seem a little strange for such a list { go on a date night with your OH - I'm not sure what this says about your relationship if such a thing needs adding to a bucket list? }.  

In truth my list has been a few months in the making.  Some things have been on the list since that first day, others have been on the list, off the list, and then back on again.  There are still things I keep wanting to add back, or add to it { stay in the Ice Hotel, take a Flying lesson } but I think there's a little wriggle room in some of the things on the list to allow me to squeeze those in.  In posting my list on here, on my blog, I know that it will give it some substance, and make me commit to these fifty, rather than continue to procrastinate and change it on a daily basis.  

{ five running things }
1. run a marathon
2. run in a park
3. run up a mountain
4. run along a beach
5. run around a lake
// to all those who I said I had no interest in running a marathon, sorry! it took me by surprise and was the first thing I added to the list, and it's never left
// the park, mountain, beach and lake don't sound too taxing, but I have parks, mountains, beaches and lakes in mind, some for the physical challenge, some for the scenery, but suggestions are welcome.

( five for others )
6. do 50 random acts of kindness
7. pay 50 compliments to others
8. spend 50 hours volunteering
9. raise 50 pounds for 50 charities
10. send 50 handwritten letters

[ five worldly things ]
11. stand on the Equator
12. stand on the Meridian Line
13. stand at Land's End
14. stand at John O'Groats
15. visit all seven continents // Europe September'17 //
// I'm lucky to have travelled a lot with my work, but this will give me a wonderful reason to re-visit some cities and discover new ones, and the intention is to set foot in all continents again over the next five years
( five for the mind )
16. go to the opera
17. go to the ballet
18. read every Agatha Christie book in chronological order // 12read // 80toread //
19. read a book whilst in the place it's set
20. find a mentor and a mentee

[ five for the soul ]
21. visit the Taj Mahal
22. see the blossom trees in Japan
23. see the Northern Lights
24. wish upon the stars and sleep under the stars
25. watch the sunrise and set in one day

{ a few adulty things }
26. write a will
27. leave a legacy
28. finally finish decorating my house
29. host a dinner party

{ a few just for fun }
30. build a sandcastle { something on a fairly grand scale, shell decorations, the lot }
31. have my fortune told
32. fly on a trapeze { with the greatest of ease }
33. make a snow angel
34. go on a picnic { something on a fairly grand scale, champagne, proper basket, the lot }
35. eat fish & chips on a seaside pier
36. climb to the top of a lighthouse

( four to learn )
37. to tango
38. to clay pigeon shoot // booked for 4thNovember //
39. to be a barista { see below 41. }
40. to crochet // booked for first three Sunday's in October //
( four foodie things )
41. work in a coffee shop { see above 39. }
42. start and keep a Sourdough Starter
43. develop a Signature bake
44. make every recipe from one cookbook

[ three more for the road ]
45. go to a festival
46. be a tourist in my own city
47. take a road trip

{ the final few }
48. make myself a made-to-measure dress
49. sell something I've made
50. you tell me ?

So, one more left to fill.  

I'd love to hear your suggestions, and read about the things you'd pop onto your own list?

{ have a happy day }

Friday, January 6

{ happy friday }

{ 1 } Winter goals.  Stay cosy.
{ 2 } Gorgeous gloves.  Knitted + gifted by
{ 3 } Darling new discovery.  Love & Honor.
{ 4 } Cosy coat. From LittleCreativeFactory.
{ 5 } Falling leaves. British designed + made by Amy & Ivor.
{ 6 } Wonderful wool holder. Photo by Before Lou Rock via We Are Knitters.
{ 7 } Get organised. With help from Quill London.
{ 8 } Winter words. From Edith Sitwell via Pinterest.
{ 9 } 2017 travel goals.  Heyyyy Portland by bakingbandits.
{ + } Coconut cake.  Because giving up cake isn't on my list of NY resolutions!

{ have a happy day }

Sunday, January 1

{ hello January }

{ hello January }

wishing you a very very happy New Year