Monday, 29 June 2015

Cook - lemonade on a sunny day

I've never attempted to make homemade lemonade before and my youngest has been urging us to have a go for a while, so we took a bag of lemons and turned them into this:

It's another Nigella Lawson recipe from Nigella Express (Cloudy Lemonade for a Sunny Day). The recipe's not on her website but it's very simple and involves blending up roughly chopped lemons with sugar and fizzy water. It was lovely and refreshing, although I might do it slightly differently next time (using the blender instead of food processor and blending with a sugar and water syrup first, then adding fizzy water later). Or I may not make any changes at all, as the whole litre that we made this time disappeared very quickly!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Run - summer running

I haven't managed to take any running photos recently, although I've stepped back up to 4 runs a week over the last couple of weeks - I think the lack of photos is because I'm mainly running with friends at the moment, and I'm a bit shy about whipping my phone out to take a snap. But I did manage to take a quick photo on our morning long run yesterday - it really was glorious.

I know I bang on about how much I love running in the countryside - but, oh, I do love running through fields like these. And through woods, and along river paths, and past amazingly grand houses and historical churches - it really makes me feel connected to the landscape. Summer is in full swing now and we're spending a lot of time running along narrow paths through crops up to our waists - such a change from a few weeks ago.  And it won't be long before the crops are harvested and the fields ploughed up, but I'm not sad about the coming of autumn as it means new landscapes to look at, new smells and sounds to take in. Yes, I really do love running in the countryside. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Read - Juliet, Naked (#11/52)

I think my rather Pollyanna-ish take on this book is that sometimes it's quite rewarding to come across a book I don't enjoy, to remind me that I still have critical faculties.  After loving the last few books I've read (including Funny Girl, also by Nick Hornby) , Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby was a bit of a let down. The story is about obsessive fandom, reclusive rock stars and mid-life angst, but I didn't feel sympathetic to any of the characters and I found the plot in turn clich├ęd and implausible. I don't mind fantastic stories or wild twists and turns in a plot (not that there were many of these in this book), but overall it has to feel true to the characters and circumstances, and this book didn't really work for me in that way; the motivations and psychology of the main characters didn't feel real enough to me, and it felt too contrived in places.  Sorry if anyone's read it and loved it - I'd really like to hear any opposing views!

To be honest, I chose this as light relief between book club books, as it was on the 'borrow me' shelf in the staff room at work, so it will be going back there next week! And, on the upside, it's been very enjoyable to read a few 'real' (ie not 'e') books recently - my Kindle's been having a welcome rest.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Craft - trackwork

The athletics track is a new addition to my list of unusual locations for a spot of crochet. It was my (long overdue) turn to take my middle son and his friends to athletics on Tuesday, so I managed to pass a pleasant hour in the evening sun crocheting, drinking tea and chatting to another mum while lots of athletics action happened on the track (10 x 300m reps. apparently).

This picture shows the border just being finished - I think there were two and a half rounds to go at this stage.  The good news is that I finished the whole thing last night - ends and all - just in time to meet Deadline B (well, about 2 hours late, but the recipient didn't mind). I will do a proper post showing the whole blanket when I've manged to take pictures, but the weather today isn't lending itself to blanket photoshoots.  And now I just need to decide which craft project to start next ....

Monday, 15 June 2015

Read - The Summer Book (#10/52)

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson is a truly delightful book.  Short and very sweet, it consists of episodes in (I think) a single summer, on a tiny Finnish island where  six year old Sophie, her father and her grandmother are spending the summer.

Originally written in Swedish, the language of the translation is perfect, and I imagine it echoes the original in style and simplicity. The landscapes and seascapes are described beautifully, and the depiction of Sophia and her grandmother, and their relationship, make them feel very real people. I found the simple, but sometimes hard way of life on the island very attractive (I have a not-so-secret yearning for isolation by the sea).

This was the second time I've read it (it was a book club book) and it won't be the last - there's more to discover in it each time, and the short chapters make it ideal for dipping in and out of. It's a great summer read. Tove Jansson also wrote A Winter Book which I haven't read yet - maybe one for later in the year (and she's the author of the Moomin books, which I loved as a child).

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Run - craft - read - cook : a bit of everything

A minor technological fail, a few other real-life distractions and do you know what? It's suddenly 3 weeks since I last blogged.  I have been doing a bit of this and that, but not really enough of anything, it feels.

Despite running along seafronts and through exciting gates, it feels like my running is on a bit of a back burner at the moment.  I really want this to change so I'm trying to schedule runs with friends to make myself feel obliged to go out - fingers crossed it works.

Crafting is currently all about crochet - I'm on a desperate mission to finish the enormous blanket by next Friday. I think it can be done if I focus really really hard ... I'm on the border (the swatch in the photo) and it's looking ok but taking ages to do each round now the blanket's so big. And there are STILL about 50 ends to sew in - booo

Reading is happening (a bit)  ... The Goldfinch was such an epic read that I had to take a little breather for a while, but I'm just finishing off  The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, which is absolutely lovely (I will blog about it properly when I've finished reading it).

Cooking is actually something I've been doing a bit more of.  I was very inspired by Angel Jem to do some proper meal planning and make more use of recipe books, and it's been going ok. Despite the photographic evidence, we've been surviving on more than luridly pink marshmallow cakes, but this was a recipe I made with my youngest who thoroughly enjoys both the process and outcome of cooking. I will try and share some of the meals that have been popular in my house as I always find food inspiration very helpful (and meal planning quite laborious). Recently I've cooked a few dishes from Nigella Express : Croque Monsieur Bake, Rapid Ragu and Quick Chilli (not on the website) have all been surprisingly successful in our house.

So - I'm not sure what exactly led to my blogging hiatus - I think it's just very hard to get started again after losing the momentum.  But I'm going to really try and keep going this time - off to check comments and have a good catch up with some of my favourite blogs now to keep me inspired.