Snapshots: March 30th, 2017

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Books:
i-SPY Creepy Crawlies and i-SPY Trees
2016, Collins
Poem:
A Calendar of Sonnets: March by Helen Hunt Jackson

How is Spring where you are?  Here it is in full bloom and today we finally had a properly warm day.  It’s so nice to be able to hang the washing on the line again!

Here is what we’ve been up to lately.

Books

Currently I’m reading a couple of mysteries, but we’ve also been going about looking for signs of Spring with some i-SPY books.

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Our Spring book basket

These are particularly fun because you earn points for each species you spot, but there are many nature guides/books out there.  The RSPB Handbook of British Birds comes out whenever we see a strange bird on the feeder.  If you want a book to read rather than use as a field guide, my husband has been reading The Wood for the Trees: The Long View of Nature from a Small Wood by Richard Fortey.  I’ll get back to you if he has any thoughts on it.  So far this Spring I have spotted, among others: a wren, dunnocks, robins, goldfinches, honey bees, bumblebees, snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, violets, primroses, and various flowering trees including cherry, apple, and blackthorn.

It’s a great time to go for a walk and see what you can spot!  Even small spaces like lawns, hedges and flowerpots will have an amazing world of minibeasts waking up and starting to roam about.  And even if you are still snowed in, if you look closely the trees should be budding and birds returning.

Food

The other day my husband made marmalade, which we have never done before.  It was quite a production, but now we have a row of gleaming jars full of citrusy goodness.  I personally don’t like marmalade, but if you, like my husband and Paddington Bear, are a fan, it’s one of the easier preserves to make.

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Marmalade is nice on a toasted tea cake or even hot cross bun on one of those still-chilly mornings.  And if you don’t like it, you could have lemon curd instead.  Citrus fruits are really nice to have in the colder months, when there are fewer fruits around.

Life

Right now our windowsills are just covered in a variety of seedlings, gathering their strength indoors before they face the cold.  There are rows of dahlias, citruses, Black-eyed Susans, and even a little maple grown from seed.

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No doubt it will be cold and blustery again tomorrow, but the seedlings are a cheerful sight and fill us with expectation for the Summer.

What have you been reading/eating/doing this March?

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Snapshots: October 10th, 2016

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Book:
Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers
2015, Clue Publishing
Poem:
Old October by Thomas Constable

So where have I been?  Well, I’ve been moving house.  We moved from one county to another, as well.  As I’m sure you guys know, moving house is THE WORST, we’re still living out of boxes, and so I haven’t been reading a lot or making much food that doesn’t come out of a box or a tin.

However, I thought a little update was in order.  So here is what I have been up to lately.

Books

I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but my favourite thing to read, besides kid’s books, is a good Golden Age mystery.  And while I do prefer paper books, the Kindle app can be useful during busy times.  I’m currently reading this:

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Seven Keys to Baldpate by the interestingly-named Earl Derr Biggers. Image from Amazon.com.

I’m only a couple of chapters in, and I’m not sure what I think of it yet.  While it’s hugely entertaining and has a great tone and sense of humour, I’m not quite sure where it’s going.  It was written in 1913, and one of the chapters seems to be anti-suffragists, but that’s a risk you run with old books.  Also, that chapter is narrated by a character who may be being made fun of by the author himself, so you never can tell.  I am still really enjoying it, but I am thinking of waiting to finish it until the Winter, because I like my books to be seasonal, and it has a great snowed-in atmosphere.

I do recommend reading mysteries in the Fall.  They are an inexhaustible resource; even when you have got through Christie and Sayers there are so many more obscure authors to read, and you might find a hidden gem.  Seven Keys to Baldpate, for example, is free on the Kindle app, and you never know what you might find cheap by having a nose around Amazon or your library book sale.

Food

We are having to be very frugal in our new circumstances, but two things which are cheap and comforting are tea and oatmeal.  If you don’t eat oats I still recommend the lovely comfort of a hot bowl of something: soup or broth, for example.  And tea is the best for making you feel like you are treating yourself!  It does not need to be fancy.  Here I am having Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea which is maybe the yummiest tea ever made.  And for bedtime you cannot beat Sleepytime.

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The pumpkin spice cookies are from a mix so we won’t talk about them 🙂 Although I did make the frosting with honey, butter, and pumpkin spice liqueur.

Life

As I said, moving takes over everything so we haven’t had time for much. But we have made time to explore the countryside around our new house. We are so lucky to be able to live in the cutest little village now, with lots of fields and hedgerows. But no matter where you are, there is usually a field or a park or a pick your own or a community garden where you can:

img_2654It’s a bit late in the year and a lot has been picked over, but we found rose hips, haws, sloes, bullace, damsons, and of course blackberries.  There will hopefully be enough to make at least one jar of hedgerow jam or chutney for the Winter.  And it is just fun to do!

What are you reading/eating/doing this October?

I will hopefully be back with another post before the end of October, as things settle in.  As soon as the books are unpacked I will have to have another read of Squashed, for sure!

I’ll leave you with a poem for those of us who are all about this time of year and the coziness it brings!

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