Sunday, 28 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 70 - early signs of spring

For Mosaic Monday today I'm sharing some images of the beautiful countryside that surrounds our home as it begins to transition from winter to spring.
I found this lovely little ode to snowdrops, pretty little harbingers of spring already beginning to appear this month in gardens and lanes.

The Snowdrop, winter's timid child,
Awakes to life, bedew'd with tears.
- Mary Robinson

This month the weather has been wet and windy but there have been some beautiful sunny days too.
Here's what January has looked like hereabouts.
depleted log pile
moss growing on a cherry tree
clematite armandii "Apple Blossom" by the front door
daffodils in the garden
snowdrops;  catkins,  primroses, ajonc, wild orchid and late mushrooms in the lane
stormy skies above

silver birch trees swaying in the wind

late afternoon as rain clouds start to move over the village once again

Hazel or birch catkins, not sure which.
Another early sign of spring?

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 69 - letting go of hygge? No, I didn't think so.

I first heard about hygge, the Danish lifestyle concept of comfortable coziness,  about two maybe three years ago when the internet was suddenly buzzing with ideas of how we could incorporate hygge into our daily lives.

The Oxford English Dictionary included hygge in it's list of words of 2016.

A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.

I heard a rumour last year that a Swedish word "Lagom" which means "just the right amount"  had replaced hygge as a life concept, I wasn't personally ready to abandon cosy but I liked the sound of lagom too.

It fits right in with the Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy philosophy, which has been on my bedside table now for more years that I can remember, a reminder to always show gratitude especially for the small every day things that make life good.
Incorporating hygge into our daily lives this week was easy to do from the cosy warmth of the kitchen, the heart of the home.

I made a wonderful broccoli and cheddar cheese soup from a recipe that I saw on Diane's  Lavender Dreams blog, which she shared @ MM # 67.

I baked a simple rustic Irish loaf, in the oven, to serve along with the soup.
Click here for Diane's recipe, if you make this soup you won't be disappointed.

Seville orange marmalade always seems to be something that people make in January so I thought I'd give that a try. I gathered all the ingredients together to follow the Delia Smith method but was shocked at the amount of sugar in the recipe. 2kg of sugar to 1kg of Seville oranges!
I called the Senior Partner in for a second opinion and his reaction was even stronger than mine, something along the lines of "are you joking, we can't eat that much sugar!"
So, I put everything away again but not before taking a photo to show my good intentions.
Since buying my bread maker I have been wanting to make a British classic tea time sweet treat and a childhood favourite - Chelsea Buns.
It took me 30 minutes to gather the ingredients together, the bread maker took two and a half hours to make the enriched dough. Preparing and adding the filling to the punched down dough whiled away another 20 minutes then I read my book for half an hour in front of the wood burner as the buns, sitting in a baking tin on the hearth below, doubled in size.
Finally it was into the oven with them for 20 minutes, after they had cooled slightly I drizzled them with vanilla icing et voila!

Was it worth it? 
Absolutely - pure hygge.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 68 - Five on Monday.

There used to be a weekly meme, which I always enjoyed being a part of, called Five On Friday hosted by Amy @ Love Made My Home. A while ago Amy took a break from blogging but I'm happy to tell you that she's blogging again so please stop by and say welcome back, Amy!
For my MM post today here are 5+ things that happened here recently.
New Year - new haircut!

You may have seen on the news that Storm Eleanor brought the New Year in with more than a few bangs as thunder, lightening and gale force winds ripped across Normandy. The village which we live in sits on the edge of the Marais (marsh) National Park and some of the fields where cows and sheep graze in summer are completely under water, the French for flood is "inondation" and signs are placed at the roadside when the road between the fields are impassable.
After a couple of days Eleanor went away to continue wreaking weather havoc in the UK .
Whilst she was gone the weather here was so mild that the SP got the mower out and gave the lawn in front of the house its first haircut of 2018!
Eleanor wasn’t finished with us though and our beach walk a few days later had to be cut short as we got sandblasted and buffeted by the wind. Later that evening we enjoyed a cosy dinner for two in front of the fire. The SP's signature dish of coq au vin and root vegetable mash with carrots on the side, afterwards we settled down to watch a new drama series on TV.
January is the month that UK TV companies launch new programmes and there are two in particular that we’ll be watching this month, the BBC’s Hard Sun and ITV’s Kiri. Both feature strong women in the leading roles, Aygness Deyn (Hard Sun) was born in the town of Littleborough, Lancs, which is about 15 miles from Oldham where Sarah Lancashire (Kiri) was born and coincidentally also the town where I was born and raised.
Finally, a book recommendation for all those who loved Downton Abbey - “Belgravia” by Julian Fellowes which I thoroughly enjoyed reading this week.
Julian Fellowes's Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London's grandest postcode.
Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. 
(text from Goodreads).

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Mosaic Monday # 67 - Life is Good

In my first post of 2017 I declared that it was going to be a ridiculously amazing year and after looking back through my blog posts of the last 12 months I'm inclined to say "Oh, yes it was!"
If you've been a visitor to my blog for even the shortest time you probably have guessed that taking trips, experiencing new cultures, discovering interesting places, living in Normandy and enjoying good things to eat are the top five topics of this blog.
Last year we visited the Greek island of Crete for the first time, we fell in love with the scenery, the people and the slow pace of life.
Special highlights of that trip were the day spent at Agreco Farm (click on the link here for a tour) and the visit to the historic island of Spinalonga, two experiences I shall remember for a very long time.

We rented a villa in the small seaside village of Panormas as our base.

In July we enjoyed some crazy time with family in Orlando Florida it was good to spend time with them "doing the theme parks" 
I wonder where our itchy feet will take us in 2018?

Until then 
to quote Dorothy 
"there's no place like home"

Here are some links to my posts about interesting places which we explored closer to home such as the sculpture park and Cathedral in Cerisy, fascinating La Maison du Biscuit and historic Château de Colombières,  if you'd like to read or perhaps reread those posts.
la vie quotidienne en Normandie