February.

Wow, January was an even longer month than it normally is. It started well and the swimming was going great, until the 8th day when Mum was taken into hospital to have a cancerous kidney removed and I along with hubby’s driving skills looked after Dad so that he could see Mum every day. It is surprising just how much time that takes out of a day. She is recovering well and looks as perky as any octogenarian given the circumstances.

Along with that hubby was still having symptoms of various problems that he was waiting on results for. We are at the time of writing nearer to finding out exactly what is the problem with his heart, but his doctor would like just a couple more tests done.

And then I went into Atrial Flutter on the 13th January for 12 days or so, I just can’t remember. It was not fun. I’m on the road to recovery now and thats the main thing. I did a quick pop along to London this week to see an exhibition, which was just about to close, so if I didn’t see it, I didn’t know if I’d ever see it, considering I’ve been waiting 10 years or so to see these artists. It was scary to be on my own in London so soon after a bout of AF, but fortune can favour the brave and I had a most wonderful and magical afternoon and for that I am very grateful.

Today I went walking in the woods with son no.1. It was refreshing to get out into the winter sunshine, a moment to savour, one I wished, as all lovely moments, it would last forever.

Reading in Heels, January,2019.

  • After the busy time of Christmas and New Year we enter the gloomy part of the year. I find this year has been mainly damp and dark rather than the light, cold, crisp, days of last winter. So when Reading in Heels announced its arrival by the gentle tap on the door of our postie, I was a very happy girl.
  • Don’t you find the best part of any present receiving is the anticipation? I know I do. I gazed, shivered a little inwardly in excitement and dove in. I was not disappointed. Let’s start with the book, which of course is our primary objective. “The Outrun” by Amy Liptrot. Which is a Sunday Times best seller along with accolades from various newspapers. Reading in Heels tells us that this is a book that makes us think and reflect on life, it is brave, hopeful and moving. It is set in the sparse, spectacular and wild landscape of Orkney, this book makes you want to look up and around. It allows the power of nature and the world around you to inspire you a little more each day. Life affirming, poetic and honest, it’s a book that will stay with you. I can’t wait to start reading it to hear the rhythms of that space in time. Cost £9.99
  • Next we have a bar of Nucao Hazelnut, and very nice it was too, organic raw cacao with hemp seeds and hazelnuts. I hid that one from hubby and have been nibbling a small triangle or two at night while reading, which is very good for the soul in the middle of winter. Cost £2.69 for 40 grams!
  • A Skin & Tonic rose lip balm, which I’m using day and night as I’ve managed to catch hubby’s virus and my lips have become crusty and sore and I find this quite pleasant on them. It’s made from organic shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax. Cost £3.50
  • Along with two bags of tea from Supertea and a bespoke notebook, which are always useful.
  • I’ve cancelled my make-up subscriptions for the foreseeable as I have everything I need, along with my food subscription box as our cupboards are winter full. But this subscription is definitely a keeper, it’s the best £12.40 I spend all month.

    Thank you Reading in Heels, another lovely box.

    New year resolutions.

    As usual, I have a few New Year resolutions that are in the eat less, move more spectrum. My main resolution for the month of January is to swim daily. That is a big ask for me because I’m now swimming 40 lengths in an hour session, and I know I’ve done it, often ending up in bed by 8.30 p.m. as I’m just too tired to sit up. Along with this there is more dog walking to do, dog training sessions to attend and as soon as a space opens up a weekly swimming lesson – just for me! This I am very excited about, I’d love to learn to crawl properly and I’ve never had a proper swimming lesson, apart from the 10 weeks with thirty other children in my year for half an hour aged 12. Although our junior school did have a pool so at least we learnt to swim in our daily 10 minutes. So to have 12 adults and one trainer for an hour! Will be absolute bliss.

    As some of my regular readers know, I love a new project. At one time I used to feel guilty for not, in the traditional sense of things, finishing things. But not anymore, I accept who I am.

    Happy New Year everyone, have fun!

    Dehydrating.

    I’ve wanted a dehydrator for such a long time that we decided to treat ourselves this Christmas. It’s just a cheap one, without a timer, but I think I’ll be able to solve that problem with a plug socket for a lamp with a timer. It will be so useful for the allotment, but also to make use of supermarket bargains to have a selection of fruit and vegetables to use should the worst happen with a hard Brexit.

    At the moment I’m learning about jars, oxygen packs and timings.

    My dehydrator arrived at about 2.30 p.m. so I immediately set it to work with some apples.Many hours later we had this.I don’t think they are completely dry but I needed to go to bed.They taste good though. I’ve bagged them up and popped them in the fridge to add to porridge and muesli and to snack on.

    Tomorrow I’m going to do plums and they will have a longer run time, so they should get nice and dry. This book is proving quite helpful. I do love a new culinary hobby.

    Merry Christmas

    The last few weeks have been difficult, hubby has not been well and even after a barrage of tests we are no further forward in finding out what the problem may be.

    So we take each day as it comes, the good with the rough and realise that even on the good days everything takes so much longer.

    On one of the good days we went Christmas tree hunting and found this incredible beauty. I think it’s the most beautiful tree we have ever had.

    There have been other lovely moments one of which we enjoyed a trip to the theatre to see Puss in Boots, who can resist a pantomime at Christmas, and off course I met with several people I knew, such is the charm of living in a small town.

    Slowly by small degrees our home is Christmas ready.

    Merry Christmas everybody, may you be happy however you choose to spend the day.

    Reading in heels December 2018

    Look what arrived this morning. So excited. I could have kept it for Christmas Day, but that idea was banished from my mind within about ten seconds. I think we hit the jackpot this month.

    Firstly let’s talk about the book, Stories We Tell Ourselves by Sarah Francoise. I think this is going to be the perfect Christmas read., it being all about families at Christmas. The coming together, the families story of memories and traditions, but also old tensions resurfacing and new secrets being kept, all written with humour and warmth. Yep, I can see myself enjoying that immensely, preferably with a twinkly tree in front of a coal fire.

    There were so many wonderful treats this month, firstly a nice big bar of Coco Chocolatier Isle of Skye Sea Salt milk. Price £5.00, wow they are really spoiling us this month. It was lovely, didn’t last the day between us both, I’m blaming hubby, he insisted we open it!

    Next was Vitamasques Gold Sheet Mask, Price £5.50, wow again.,I love a sheet mask and have been very lucky to try quite a few this year from my beauty boxes. Haven’t tried this brand yet, so that will be a lovely treat.

    There was a tea light from Cornwall based St Eval Candle Co, called Inspiratus. Christmas in a candle with scents of aromatic spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Who doesn’t love a candle at this time of year, I light mine nearly every night, so this was eagerly welcomed into my stash of scented candles.

    And lastly a little notepad with a quote from Jack Kerouac, ‘Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.’ Such a lovely quote to end the year and start thinking of the next.

    Thank you Reading in Heels, this was a cracking box, you have truly spoilt us this month.

    Bread

    Many of my regular readers will know that over the years I’ve baked the odd loaf. My love affair with bread started when I was about five and our school teacher taught us the magic of yeast in bread and we made two  tiny rolls each to take home. Now from what I remember the bread dough was pretty grey – all those grubby little hands taking their turn at squishing the dough – but the smell of the freshly baked bread and the taste of the crust, I was hooked!

    It was only when I left home was I able to cater to this side of my personality and tastebuds, often finding obscure little bakeries in odd little places. One likes to romanticise bread, but it’s an every day staple, and I’ve often found very good family run bakeries in really run down areas. One memorable really tough winter where the house I shared was so cold the shower clogged up with ice for weeks, a tin of Heinz cream of tomato soup and a whole meal loaf that I could purchase by the quarter literally kept the wolf from the door.

    When the boys were little I made bread as and when I had the time, when they were older I could never keep up with demand. In London I was just too busy and there were too many tempting bakeries to try at every turn in the road. But recently I noticed we had run out of bread, and I was in our local high end supermarket and I just didn’t fancy any of it. And then I realised, I haven’t bought any bread for over a year, we truly are self sufficient.

    I rarely make fancy loaves, I do like to play with sourdough, but am equally happy to play with commercial yeast. Often and I do mean often, it’s a white bread flour, salt and water combo, which I’m very happy with. Occasionally I follow a recipe, most of the time I wing it. 

    And today’s was no exception, no scales involved, commercial yeast brought alive, flour, water, salt. I think my bread today was equal in stature to anything I could buy in a bakery, and most definitely fresher! 

    Nom, nom!

    And I made a couple of spares for the freezer.

    Crusty bread.

    A New Arrival

    The smell of a very young puppy is just heavenly. It runs neck and neck with new baby smell and I’d be hard pressed to tell you  which I actually prefer. I can tell you this though, puppy feet smell just like cheesy wotsits, which is just so cute! 

    Meet Teddy. 

    Teddy 

    The story goes, Ruperts breeder was having another litter which would be related to Rupert. We had thought about it, but because hubby was having the odd moment of not being quite right, we’d pushed the idea away. But then, you knew there was a but then, one can’t live ones life on buts and maybes. So we tootled over to have a look at the last two of the litter, and low and behold the pup I’d fallen for weeks ago was still there. Although I hadn’t realised that until I looked over the litter photos later. What I do know is I instantly connected with this pup, it was something about the eyes and that lovely dark muzzle, the pup instantly connected with us and first fell asleep on hubby, then woke up, came over to see me, fell asleep, then woke up and went back to hubby. The other pup had long since disappeared bored by the whole proceedings.

    Out for the count.
    My Bears. 
    Ruperts baby. 

    Rupert has taken to him so well, it’s lovely to watch them play and then snuggle up together while they sleep. Don’t be alarmed, Rupert has just been castrated so they don’t fight when they are older.

    Cousins. 
    Nearly 9 weeks. 

    We are so lucky to have such a happy puppy, now I just wonder when he’ll start sleeping through the night! 

    Reading in Heels, November 2018.

    Reading in Heels plopped onto the doormat a couple of days ago, which was a very pleasant surprise, not least because although we have had Halloween and Guy Fawkes my brain had not computed that we were again into a new month. In fact everything has gone awash this week, the swimming has stopped, the daily walk, everything, I’ve just wandered into a black hole. Hubby’s not been well, we ended up in accident and emergency on Sunday afternoon/evening while a gamut of tests were done, all hail the NHS, who I’ve always loved and adored. Then he saw a specialist team the next day and he sees another one next week. He seems to have improved immeasurably and is back to pottering on the plot, often with his new mantis tiller, so fingers crossed, it was just a bit of a moment. It was just me that got launched out of my cocoon of a lovely life, but I went for a long walk yesterday and am finding my way back. So it was a bit of a distraction to find this.
    I eagerly ripped it open, anticipation tingling.
    Ooh goodies, squeal. Firstly the book, States of Passion by Nihad Sirees, a dark and stormy love story set in a Syria, known long ago, filled with music, art, wealth and culture. Sounds wonderful, just the sort of book to read when one can hear the rain beating down along with the crackle of a good fire. There were treats of course, Nemi tea provided some chai tea, I do love a chai tea so I’m looking forward to that. Honey rose bakery provided the most delicious brownie I’ve ever had in my life, it might have been small but it was wonderful, and nearly didn’t make it into the photo! Korres provided some bergamot and jasmine body milk which smells devine and is such a nice treat from a high end brand. Just perfect to use after a nice long soak in the tub on a winters evening to float into sleep amidst beautiful scents.  And some postcards, which are a bit random but will make perfect bookmarks.  

    Oh Liberty how we love thee.

    I make no apology for this, this is pure unadulterated pleasure of the girly variety, although if your a chap who loves indulging in his feminine side, please do go ahead. It makes the perfect pre Christmas gift and for the fifth year running I have been lucky enough to secure one, although to be honest, with the Americans being on board and able to purchase for the first year, I wondered whether I would be.  Sadly at the time of writing it is now sold out online, but it is still available in store, should you feel the need to hop on a train.

    It arrived half an hour ago, I’ve squealed with delight, and am resisting the temptation to open all the boxes. Ive just had a couple of peeks and it looks so good.

    It is the ultimate, much sought after beauty advent calendar, with a selection of high end treats that truly do make one feel wonderful. I’m like a child in a sweetie shop, I just can’t wait for the 1st of December.

    Happy Christmas to me, and why not!