Sunday, 12 February 2017

February Things


Lately I feel tired so much of the time. I sleep for eight hours a night, but struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I have dark circles under my eyes and yawn all day long. I can only really put it down to Winter. January and February, I am coming to realise, are my dormant months, for sleeping and resting, well, as much as modern life allows, which is not much. I am doing all the right things, taking regular exercise, eating well. I possibly eat too much cake and drink too much caffeine but I think, overall, my diet is pretty balanced. I think it's just what winter does to me, and it really feels like winter here at the moment. We've had snow flurries all weekend and, while none of it has settled, it's finger-achingly cold out there. A reminder that although the days are steadily lengthening and bulbs starting to poke their shoots up through the earth, spring is a while off yet. 

But I don't really mind the cold, I actually quite like it when the seasons behave like they should, and there are lots of things making me happy at the moment.

:: Spring flowers. Bunches of white tulips, fistfuls of £1 daffodils, pots of tete-a-tetes, I love them all. Instant cheer on the greyest day and one of my favourite things about late winter.



:: Time to bake. The week before last, Bella had a couple of days off school when she was unwell. My mum looked after her the first day but couldn't on the second so I took the day off work. (My boss, such a lovely person, said "don't worry, we'll be fine, go and be a mum.") It was like being a stay at home mum again, pottering around clock watching till 3.15pm, getting on with jobs. I cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom, caught up with the washing and ironing mountain and then baked lemon nutmeg madeleines from the excellent book Scandilicious Baking. Madeleines are a bit of a faff, what with having to chill the batter first, then cook them in batches in my madeleine tin, but so worth the effort. Little clouds of warm, lemony deliciousness, they were. Just the kind of baking I love to do but rarely have time to indulge in.


:: Surprise post. Almost nothing is more delightful than receiving an unexpected parcel or card through the letterbox. My dearest friend Abigail, on reading my post last week about cookery books, sent me this as a little treat. (The card will make sense to Game of Thrones fans.)


:: Molly. Not, ahem, the perfect dog, but goodness we do love her an awful lot. She makes me - well, all of us - very happy.


Bella is her favourite person. As soon as Molly hears sounds of movement upstairs in the morning, she comes upstairs and sits on Bella's bed until it's time to go down for breakfast. Angus suspects that Molly prefers Bella and is quite disgruntled, but we all lie and so no, don't be daft, she loves us all the same.


:: A little trip to IKEA with my mum. When we lived in Leeds we'd visit IKEA regularly as it was only fifteen minutes away. Now it's the best part of an hour to battle through traffic to visit the Southampton branch, so I go rarely. The trouble with that is that I get quite excited when I do go. For example, here, this is what happens when I only need wine glasses.


:: A new food magazine to browse. 


Recently, the gorgeous Winchester-based shop The Hambledon asked if I'd like to try one the magazines they are stocking as part of their newsstand promotion. I was kindly sent (more happy post!) a copy of Lunch Lady, an Australian food quarterly. It's more of a book than a magazine, solidly bound, beautifully produced and with virtually no adverts. Being Australian, it's the summer edition I received, so I am not in a rush to make any homemade ice lollies, but there are some tasty looking weekday pasta recipes that I'd like to try, plus a great feature on no-bake cake bars.


My only gripe with Lunch Lady - larger and clearer type please! I'd love to read your delicious recipes without squinting. Perhaps I am getting old.

Last of all, can I tell you about a brilliant new website called Agnes. My blogging friend Sam at A Coastal Plot has, with her friend Charlotte Ford, been working away on this for months, and it's finally up and running. It is the most wonderful thing, a website aimed at helping girls find their way through their teenage years. Practical and useful, but fun and inspiring too, Sam and Charlotte have created something really special and, in my opinion, necessary. Please do click on the link above and have a look.

19 comments:

Christina said...

We have an Ikea 15 minutes away. I took the young ones to lunch there yesterday, they think it is a treat and I get to have a wee look around an buy some completely unnecessary items. Having a dog is one of the best things ever. I am so happy to have ours, as mischievous as he is. He once stole an entire toad in the hole and moved it through the cat flap in the garden before devouring it. Jack loves Richard most of all but I don't mind, he loves me, too. Molly looks like she could never be naughty at all :-) Have a lovely week, I hope the increasing daylight helps combat your tiredness. x

CJ said...

Sorry you're feeling so tired. I'm a bit the same in winter. Are you having enough iron? That helps sometimes if you're a bit short on it. Just thought I'd mention it, hope you don't mind. I'm loving winter as well, despite the cold and the fact that I just spent the entire afternoon out in it and I haven't defrosted yet. The thought of a lovely long winter evening at home kept me going. I hope Bella is all better now. The madeleines look delish. CJ xx

Lyn said...

January and February are such sad sort of months, I too feel fed up now and can't wait for spring but like you realise we need the change in seasons to enjoy the happier months!
Such a lovely post with amazing photos. xxx

Vikki B said...

I absolutely love your first photo here! Dogs/cats/whatever complete our families. I'm sure it is an unwritten law of the universe that you cannot get out of an Ikea without buying lots of things. I hope you listen to your body and gear-down for the rest of the Winter. After all, you want to fully enjoy Spring.

Susan Smith said...

Lovely post Gillian and the year seems to be flying by already. Molly looks so sweet and I'm sure she'll mature over time. Your shopping trip to Ikea must have been a good one and I've been to the one in Leeds you spoke about too. Our closest here in Oz is probably an hour away or so. That magazine is one I've never seen, but I do try and keep away from newsagents, as I might be tempted too much. It looks good though, and I use quite a lot of no-bake slice recipes. Have a good week and take care.

Leanne Paxton said...

Hey Gillian,
Oh that dog of yours with her beautifully expressive face. I love her silhouette in the first picture. Honey loves Marc the most, which is a teeny bone of contention; he paid no attention to her for the first year of her life. As for IKEA; all I can see are essential items (is that a little cactus? I bought a three pack for Olly). And yes, winter makes me feel more tired than usual too. But like you, I embrace the seasons for what they are, and what they bring. Have a lovely half term week, lovely girl.
Leanne xx

Jennifer Hays said...

I have to go on vacation to a different state to visit IKEA, so you're doing a lot better than me. How fun to review a magazine, it looks like a nice one. I'm hoping to find daffodils when I shop this week, they always seem to show up a little later here than they do by you. I'm glad you're embracing winter; I'm doing the same because there's something to love in every season and I always need something to look forward to.

cassie said...

I have the same weakness with Ikea. The first time I went the closest one was a four hour drive away. We bought so many things! Now it is a 25 minute drive and I still find too many little treasures that I didn't know I needed. I looked up the cookbook from Abigail and now I want a steaming bowl of ramen. Please pass along whatever ramen tips you learn! I almost bought an issue of Lunch Lady a few months ago, but I was thrown by the season shift. It looks good though! My kids would love those popsicles, even in the cold of winter.

Librarian said...

The tiredness you describe is something nearly everybody is struggling with at the moment. Like you, I sleep enough hours, try to eat well, get enough exercise, daylight and fresh air, but I could just stay in bed when the time comes to get up. Yes, that's what winter does to the human body, and it is perfectly normal :-)

Lovely pictures (as always)! The print in the Australian magazine really looks VERY small. I imagine it is more or less readable while sitting down to read it, but what when one props it open in the kitchen while working on a recipe from it?

Our IKEA is a 10-minute drive away, but I've not been since last spring when I bought things for "The Big Switch".

VeggieMummy said...

Those madeleines look scrummy! We now have an Ikea about 20 minutes away and it's such fun. I find that it's very easy to overspend though - everything seems so cheap that I pop things into my trolley with mad abandon and then it's a bit of a shock at the checkout! Molly looks like a complete darling. Enjoy your half term. xx

Anonymous said...

I love that first shot – shadow Molly! She's such a beautiful dog and your children's expressions with her are a picture. Lots of lovely things here, Gillian – family, friends, flowers. I'm sure the light levels have a huge effect on tiredness so I hope you feel more perky this week if/when the sun comes out. i haven't been to Ikea for a few years (too far) but I, too, end up buying loads of extra bits. That blanket is lovely. Have a good half term - hope you get plenty of time to recharge. Thanks so much for the mention :-) Sam x

Saskia said...

Might be worth taking vit D, as we don't get enough sunlight over the winter to make it ourselves. Apparently our body uses it to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy but I find I get tired when I forget to take it over the winter.

Life With The Crew said...

Great shadow picture! February can tend to be that in between slightly depressing month - good thing it is short!

mrsrobinson said...

After reading this I think it is perhaps time to welcome some daffodils into our home... I try to embrace winter for as long as possible, and enjoy these grey, cosy days but your photographs make me think it is time! And time to bake madeleines too... Oh, I miss The Hambledon - dreamy shop. Hope your tiredness disappears soon

AnnieOBTextiles said...

Mollie looks so comfortable and settled and very photogenic. Your madeleine's look delicious too. Hopefully the return of some sunshine will help to improve your energy levels. Grey days just make me want to cosy up with some crochet and cake! There is an Ikea just 10 minutes away so I have to limit my visits as plants (and other things) always find their way into my basket.

Cecily Graham said...

I love making madeleines - they are the only 'fussy' baking I do (I am in awe of people who can ice cakes and biscuits like you can!). Rose flavoured ones are my favourite... Beautiful photos, as always.

Jo said...

I am all out on enthusiasm at the moment too and that is not like me but hey ho! it is lighter at 5 O'clock now. Jo x

Angel Jem said...

Beautiful things. I love all your February things, but I am in awe that you have the time and energy to bake at all!

On a different note, on my hygge blog https://howtohyggethebritishway.com/ I'm doing a series on hyggely blogs (that's blogs that make me feel hyggely, not specifically about hygge) and yours is one of my favourites. Would you be prepared to answer just a couple of questions, give me permission to use a couple of photos and, of course, have loads of links to your blog from mine? It would be lovely if you'd take part. Please let me know via email.

Geri said...

RE: your chronic tiredness. Have you had your thyroid levels checked? Just an idea.