I cannot believe it has been a week since I last posted. The last few days of half term just flew by in a blur of washing, housework, rain and colds. That makes it sound awful, and it wasn't really, but it was a reminder that, while it's lovely to get away in the school holidays, how much I really do need some unhurried days at home to restore my equilibrium.
We left for Durham with a full washing basket (when is it anything other?) and came back with another, and then the beds all needed stripping, and Ziggy was sick over a blanket in the car on the way home (he did amazingly with the journey but the back roads home from Winchester may have been too much) and I felt like the washing machine started and never stopped. And of course it rained pretty much constantly so drying the washing was challenging. Ah, the tyranny of laundry. We also all had various colds and viruses over half term, you know how it is.
I don't know if it was the season or the rain, but I did a lot of cooking and baking last week. I think it's part of my nesting behaviour, how I choose to relax and feel cosy when the weather is horrible and I only want to be indoors. We don't celebrate Halloween but I do like a pumpkin, and I did a lot of pumpkin related cooking.
The pretty squashes were chopped into eighths and roasted, skin on, before being turned into soup. Once they were cool enough, I peeled away the toughest bits of skin by hand and threw the flesh into a pan with a can of coconut milk, some spices, and some vegetable stock. Once it had all come to the boil I pureed it, and it was delicious.
Leftover seeds were washed, dried and sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper before being roasted until crisp.
I made pumpkin pancakes (this recipe is very similar). I love these so much - the pumpkin flesh and spices add such a warmth and sweetness to a regular pancake, I look forward to making them every year.
And another seasonal favourite - pumpkin and carrot bars with a cream cheese swirl frosting. Really lovely and moist.
Plus flapjacks and blondies for lunchboxes and afterschool snacks.
Making the most of a leisurely half term breakfast, I made baked oatmeal with caramelised pears and have been eating leftovers warmed up every day this week. Baked oats are a revelation. Half way between porridge and flapjack, they have a texture that I really love.
On Sunday, the one day it didn't rain, I gardened. I weeded, cut back, swept up and planted bulbs and if felt good. There is still so much to do, and the grass needs cutting again, but it felt really positive to get out there and do something.
Did I mention the grass really needs cutting?
We also managed a bracing, sunny walk on the beach that afternoon.
A morning in the garden, then an afternoon on the beach, just what I needed after all that cooking.
The last few days back at work and school have been hectic. There's a busy calendar with lots going on after school each night and plenty of other things simmering away in the background too, like visits to the vets and new windows being put in and conversations about new bathrooms. I'm frantically crocheting a baby blanket for a colleague who is expecting her first baby soon, reading Agatha Christie, watching the new series of Escape to the Chateau, and I have made a start on some Christmas shopping. Bonfire Night passed us by this year. The fireworks display we usually attend was cancelled, and what with the horrible wet, windy weather and busy evenings, we just didn't manage to organise anything. I felt really guilty about it last night, but the kids don't seem overly bothered and there's always next year. I can't do everything.