Sunday, June 26, 2016

word of the week

Well where to start with this week, such a weird one it has been. The word in these parts has been results, of varying types, and today has found us curled up on the sofa, cuddling the dog and trying to escape from the world for a little while.

After an appointment just before we went on holiday, and then a few mishaps with cancelled tests, I have spent this week waiting for some results. It wasn't for anything major, just some episodes where my heart was racing a little too quickly, and although it was more than likely one of those odd pregnancy side effects, it was better to make sure there was nothing else underlying it. It meant that in the interim I was advised not to drive, just until anything more serious was ruled out, so this week has involved me getting well acquainted with public transport. It was fine, and the novelty of travelling by bus would have been even stronger had I not been quite so far along in pregnancy, and had it not typically ended up being a week where I was travelling to lots of different places, more so than usual.

Gladly the investigations were ok, and the symptoms have improved, so this week should not be quite so complicated as far as commuting goes. Some of the tests did flag up a few co-incidental findings that will need another look at when I am no longer pregnant. Again, although nothing serious, it has made me feel a little cautious, and whether it is exacerbated by the idea of becoming a parent, but I have had an increased sense of needing to look after myself, and to ensure I am doing what I can to keep myself well. However, the need to eat more healthily and indulge in fewer treats is one the I find challenging, enjoying cooking and baking, and subsequently eating! I still found myself baking this morning, however I then quickly boxed everything up for The Husband to take to work, and delivered the rest to my parents, to remove the temptation to sample everything I had made!

Then, of course, there has been the EU referendum result. It feels too significant not to acknowledge it here, but, as I have said before, I tend to avoid too much in the way of serious discussion on this blog. However, particularly having revisited my old blog when I was looking for something recently, I realised that I used to write in a different, perhaps more involved, way and it made me feel keen to strike a better balance. I can't easily verbalise how I feel about the result, it was not the one I was hoping for, obviously that leaves me with a sense of disappointment, and I must admit to being fearful for the future. Having tried to inform myself as best I could, I also find it disconcerting to feel that my views are the (slight) minority, and to comprehend what that means about society. I do believe in democracy, and accept that the result is what it is, and that people on both sides of the debate have made decisions for a variety of reasons. What I struggle with is the amount of misinformation in the lead-up, the propaganda and promises that are now so quickly being denied, and although that has long been a facet of politics, it feels to me at odds with the idea of a democratic vote when people struggle to make sense of the facts in the process of trying to make such a decision.

There is far more I could say, but others have said it far more eloquently than me, and I ultimately respect everyone's right to vote in the way that they wish. I am shocked at the outcome, and only hope that the result will not lead to some of the more extreme repercussions that are being heralded in some discussions. I hope that in time a way is found to move forward that doesn't revolve around the us and them mentality that seems to persist currently, and that somehow leads to positive change rather than the negative consequences that are currently filling the headlines, but that feels a long way from where things are at the moment. I must say that I have found the blogging community to be of comfort, to read posts from a number of people, and realise that despite the majority vote being to leave, there are a great many people who share similar sentiments to me. I find it reassuring to know that there are plenty of others out there who share the same view. It is not because I think everyone should be the same, but because, at a time when things feel fractured and divisive, it is good to feel united with others; that sense of belonging brings with it hope. 

The Reading Residence

Project 52: Week 25

As you may know, I have been taking part in Penny's fabulous Cookery Calendar Challenge this year. Over the weekend I cooked up both of this month's recipes, and loved the look of these tomatoes, scorched under the grill and ready for roasting. I was a little disappointed that the fancy chef's blowtorch we own doesn't actually have any gas in it, as that would have been the perfect chance to use it, but the grill did a good job (once I remembered to turn it on!). Pop back at the start of June to see what I rustled up with them, and which book I chose this month, 


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Project 52: Week 23 and 24

Having been away on holiday and thoroughly enjoying getting away from it all, I didn't post last week's photo. This was taken in the orchard that was attached to our holiday cottage. It was lovely to wander there for a walk each day, to sit on the bench looking out over the greenery, and most enjoyable was the fact that it was fully enclosed so Millie could enjoy running around off her lead to her heart's content. If you look very closely you may well be able to spot the beagle shaped blur dashing towards us.

As part of our trip we visited Stratford races this week, and although the weather wasn't the best, we had a brilliant day. The centre enclosure allows you to drive on and also to take dogs, so we could shelter in the car with our picnic and walk Millie between races as we went to place our bets. We had a great view, just near the finishing post, and even won on one or two races, the fact that we only ever wagered one or two pounds doing nothing to dampen our excitement!

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky


word of the week

After going away for our holiday last Friday, I think the word of the week has been "peace". We escaped with Millie to a beautiful cottage in Gloucestershire, and had a wonderful trip. The setting was idyllic, and I do have plans to post separately about our accommodation, I was that impressed with it. The week included plenty of walks with the dog, a day at the horse races, a farmers' market, board games, jigsaws, lots of books and leisurely days.

The secluded setting meant that we woke each morning to birdsong (occasionally drowned out by Millie's barking!), and the cottage was a lovely home from home. Days were spent pottering around, wandering for walks with Millie, curling up with cups of tea and enjoying our own company. In what seemed to be a particularly violent week as far as news goes, it was jarring to be enjoying such tranquility yet to be greeted with relentless bad news on the radio each morning. I was grateful for the space and calm we had, and was even more appreciative of the peace in the wake of so many different tragedies.

I was thankful to have the time together, our little family, and without the demands of work or the chores of home it was a gentle reminder of how happy we can be just sharing our days together. It is exciting to think that our next family holiday could well include another member, and that it may be a very different experience as a result! Perhaps peace might not be as suitable a word then, but hopefully no less enjoyable! 

The Reading Residence

Monday, June 06, 2016

Cookery Calendar Challenge: May

For May I picked a much neglected book from my shelf called "200 Four-Ingredient Recipes". I have no idea when I acquired this book, or where from. It seems familiar, as though it has been in the family for a while and I think I brought it with me when we moved into this house, but it is not very well-used. All of the recipes include a maximum of four ingredients, with the exception of seasoning, although some include suggestions for additions too.

I was intrigued to see, particularly after some of the complex recipes from other months, whether ones with only four ingredients could really compare. The trickiest part was finding recipes that I felt would suffice as a meal, as many were for soups, smoothies and juices. Also, many of the main courses would have needed other side dishes to go with them. I could have made a main and two side dishes and still used less ingredients than some other recipes but I was keen to see if I could make a substantial meal from one recipe.

The first recipe was fettuccine alfredo, and was simply parmesan, cream and butter over fresh pasta. Whilst it didn't win any prizes for colour, or for vegetable content, it was a really lovely dish. I think it was a definite success as the recipe for four people disappeared, with The Husband having a rather large portion of seconds. While I do think it would have benefited from a salad on the side, the simple, classic flavours worked really well.

As I have started to do with the Cookery Calendar Challenge, the second dish was The Husband's choice, and we had a broad bean and pancetta risotto. The ingredients were risotto rice, herb stock, frozen broad beans and smoked pancetta. This included a suggestion to add parmesan shavings, and as I had some leftover from the pasta dish I decided to make it a five ingredient recipe! It was the first time I have used frozen broad beans, having enjoyed cooking with the ones from our vegetable patch last year. We decided to remove the tougher outer shells after cooking them, though I'm not sure that was necessary, and this was a really nice, filling dish. The leftovers made a very hearty lunch portion too, but I was glad to have added the parmesan as I think it made it a slightly richer dish.

Overall, the four-ingredient approach was a success, and I think I may well revisit the book in the future for some simple recipes that are a bit different to what we usually make. The book for June hasn't been chosen yet, so pop back next month to see what I went for. In the meantime do visit Penny's blog (click through the link below) to see how others are getting on with the challenge, and to find out how to join in too!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

word of the week

This week's word is "celebrate". Although work is fairly hectic at the moment the weekend has been a happy one. We have celebrated my close friends 30th birthday with a small gathering on Friday night followed by a surprise party on Saturday. Luckily we managed to get through Friday night without any slip-ups and she was well and truly surprised the following day.

I did a little baking, some lemon and lime cupcakes, to take on the Friday. As my cousin and his family were visiting from London we also saw them for an hour or so on Friday before the party, and happily there were spare cakes to take to my parents' house and share. Although it wasn't any particular occasion, having tea and cake and catching up, especially when we don't see them very often, felt like a celebration too.

Another close friend has had some brilliant news from work, achieving amazing progress despite some tough times in recent months. We popped by today with a bottle of bubbles and a card to congratulate her. Then it was home for a dog walk, where we saw the ducklings above, and a gentle afternoon celebrating the sunshine with an ice cream and a sit in the garden with my parents and grandad. 

The Reading Residence

Project 52: Week 22

Bank Holiday Monday included a wander through the craft and food fair that was held in our local town, luckily right on our doorstep. Amongst the wicker baskets, paintings, and ferret walks (!) there was a falconry display. We didn't get too close as we had Millie with us, but I did manage a few snaps, and this was my favourite.


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

first things first

The first of June.

The first day of summer, I heard on the radio this morning, apparently according to the meteorological calendar. The solstice isn't for a few weeks yet, though. Either way, we had a glorious bank holiday weekend which certainly felt fitting for summer time, and despite the clouds overhead, my walk with Millie tonight proved we are definitely in no jacket required territory now.

Summer is also the season when our first baby is due to arrive. Having first found out in late November, the due date felt so very far away, especially as we spent those first days of knowing curled up in a cottage in the Lake District, surrounded by the floods and storms that hit late last year. Summer seemed so distant, almost untouchable, and yet here we are with just weeks to go. It still feels just out of reach at the moment, not quite real somehow, though the acrobatics that have been happening in my stomach all day are certainly helping it to sink in.

This month also brings our first holiday since the trip we went on for my birthday in February. With all the bank holidays recently it hasn't felt like a particularly long time since our break, but as the weeks go on, and especially with work being busy these last few weeks, I have been increasingly excited at the anticipation of our time away. We are renting a cottage in Gloucestershire and taking Millie for a week of peace, quiet and walks. We've also got tickets for a day at the races, having found out that Stratford racecourse has an enclosure that you can drive onto (a picnic in the car is planned), and that dogs are also welcome. 

The first weekend of June includes celebrations for a wonderful friend's 30th birthday and hopefully a catch-up with my lovely cousin and his family too. There will also be a trip to the hairdresser, I have been doggedly growing out the short crop since February, but while pregnancy is making my hair thicker it doesn't seem to be helping it grow longer. I am at the mullet stage, and had warned the hairdresser that I might get it all chopped off again and undo the months of persistence just to have it feeling something more than a mop on my head, but she did warn me that she wouldn't let me, so we shall see who succeeds!!

I think that is enough firsts for now, as an hour on the sofa with The Husband, Millie and a cup of tea beckons. Hope you all have a lovely June.