Auld Claes and Parritch

Ah, January! Once you crawl out from under the pile of wrapping paper, empty bottles and chocolate wrappers, the Bacchanalian joy vanishes, and it’s back to auld claes and parritch*, right?

No wonder folks hate January. It’s cold, dark and no-one is going out (in the UK at least). Whisper it, I quite like January so far. There are a lot of small (and the odd big) things that are making me happy.

Scheduling. Nothing says January like plotting out your activities on an online calendar, eh? I’m THE saddo who spent a satisfying two hours adding everything to Outlook. Basically, there’s no room for anything spontaneous until the end of February.

Emma BairdFeeding the Birds. If I’d known how much joy this would give me, I’d have done it years ago! I put out a handful of nuts every day, and they’re gone an hour later. We’ve got three or four blue tits that visit the garden regularly, and this morning I managed to spot one of them and a robin swoop in for a feed.

“Birdie, are you sure you can eat that?” I wondered aloud. Half a peanut looks like the equivalent of a human trying to chow down on a double cheeseburger.

I’ve also got a jar of Flutter Butter, peanut butter, especially for small, fluttering birds. Next job is to find the cat-safe place to install it seeing as our garden is also a haven for the neighbourhood cats. As my friend said, “Wow, it’s like you’ve just put a takeaway menu for them up on the wall.”

Using Draft2Digital. The Girl Who Swapped is now out of Kindle Select so I can go wide. I used Draft2Digital, as I’ve heard and read good things about this platform for uploading e-books onto multiple places. The book is now on Kobo, iTunes, Playster and a good few I’ve never heard of, as well as Amazon.

Here’s the Universal Book Link – books2read.com/tgsw

 

 

Walking along beaches. Thursday was a dull, gloomy day in my neck of the woods. I took myself off to Prestwick to visit a friend. Down there, the sun shone brightly, so we took her dog Ruaridh out for a long walk along the beach front. I probably met and spoke to half of Prestwick at the same time. Dog walking is unbelievably sociable.

Emma BairdAcquiring jewellery. My mum LOVES giving gifts and this year she decided to pass on her ring collection, giving my sisters and I one each. This is mine. Isn’t it gorgeous?

How’s your January going?

*A Scottish saying meaning the humdrum, workaday world.

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The Joy of the New

Aha! So that's where they have hidden the food...

Aha! So that’s where they have hidden the cat food…

So long January (almost) – glad to see the back of you.

Actually, scratch that. I’ve rather been enjoying 2013 so far (not least because I have my May wedding to look forward to) and there have been plenty of new and interesting experiences…

Many a Friday night has been spent sans wine, as have many other evenings. And you know what? Sobriety is OK. I won’t, however, be turning into an evangelical teetotaller as I’ve yet to find a soft drink that goes as well with cheese.

I wrote a piece of flash fiction. It is as it sounds, a very, very short story. The definition of short varies, but my story was 100 words and I wrote it for a competition to win a residential writing course. If anyone else is interested, I’m not afraid of competition (!) so here’s the link.

I had a Brazilian blow-dry. I now possess wavy, rather than curly hair. I’m pleased with the results but would caution any prospective customers to try the treatment out via a deals website. I don’t think the treatment is worth full price at all.

I took to using electrical appliance on my face to tighten it up. Ooh it hurts so is therefore good for me? One week in and I think I see a difference on the nose to mouth lines and my complexion looks brighter. However, it’s not particularly a scientific, controlled experiment. Maybe the better skin is down to all the fruit and veg I’ve been eating?

The cat was forced onto a diet. Unlike we humans, it’s much easier for a cat to diet, seeing as he gets no say in the matter. We weighed him and its turns out he has two pounds too heavy – pretty significant when you’re a wee beastie.*

As cakes have been absent of late, I made soda bread. Healthy baking hmm?
250g plain flour
250g wholemeal flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp salt
400ml buttermilk, or use 200g plain live yoghurt made up to 400ml with water

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Sift the flours and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Add in the salt and make a well in the centre. Add in the buttermilk or yoghurt and bring together quickly. It will be pretty sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a minute.

Place in a 20cm round non-stick, loose-bottomed cake tin and mark the top with a cross. Cook for 40-45 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. (You’ll know it’s cooked as it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Serve warm with butter and raspberry jam.

My final new experience of January takes place on Monday. I’m going to an NLP session to cure (hopefully) my addiction to blasted diet coke (ahem – two litres a day…)

 

*We’re a day past Burns Night; I had to throw in a Rabbie reference somewhere.

Lordie… January Blues…

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Doing double time on the detox – cakes and wine are playing a much less significant role in my life these days, money spending is at a minimum (I’ve got a wedding to pay for, for heaven’s sake!) and, as I’ve been fairly organised so far, I can’t even write any more lists for said wedding.

Dull, dull double dull!

So, post-work I’m forced to find other ways to entertain myself, such as tidying up the kitchen cupboards. Most of it was tedious, but the ordering of the baking cupboard was joyful and it is now a thing of beauty, which leads me neatly on to another top ten list (thank you Lesley Carter) – the baking essentials:

  1. Digital scales for precise measuring

  2. Cup measures so you can easily use American recipes as well as British ones

  3. Vanilla extract/paste for delicious flavouring

  4. 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate (so many lovely things to create with it)

  5. A good, solid mixing bowl

  6. Condensed milk (see dark chocolate above)

  7. Soft brown sugar

  8. Icing sugar

  9. Stork margarine – use half and half with unsalted butter for lusciously light cakes

  10. ANYTHING from Lakeland.