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A friend of mine is giving up caffeine for Lent. We’re not even 12 hours in and I can see him twitching with coffee withdrawal symptoms – a bad sign. I decided to support him by giving up chocolate.
40 days and 40 nights, people! I don’t know what I was thinking either. I don’t think I’m particularly chocoholic by nature but knowing I’m not supposed to eat it means that the only thoughts in my head are thus ‘Oooh, Green and Black’s maya gold… no wait, a Twix! Do Oreos count? I want a Flake!’ So cliched.

In an effort to draw my panting brain away from that, I’m concentraing on savoury delights. Recently I’ve made a couple of very easy, yummy things. One, these crash potatoes. They were part of a meal but I’d happily sit down to a big plate of just these chewy, crispy, sticky delights. (Fab blog there too.)
Next, this oven-baked thai rice curry. Not terribly exciting I suppose but I was bowled over by how easy and quick it was to make (very hand off!) and really rather tasty (thrown together for surprise visitors. I say surprise – they’d told us of their intentions to come over a week before but I’d forgotten. Hence ‘surprise!’)

And finally, I’m so looking forward to making this (going to do it for Mother’s Day lunch next month). I haven’t cooked ox cheeks before but have seen them in Waitrose and never been quite sure how to make them taste good. I’m hoping I’ll have conquered that soon…

NEWSFLASH: Just realised it’s National Chip Week! Chocolate, begone!

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Catching up

Right, I’m back at it. (Why is my life currently been run at a 30mins per hour speed so I only manage to ever do half of what I intend…? Including blogging.)

However – I have found a wee bit of time to do some of those things that I’ve really been meaning to do but, as they aren’t shouting loudly enough for my attention, have been languishing at the bottom of my list.

So – I have an address book! And it’s filling up nicely.
And I have a travel journal. I decided not to write retrospectively so it’s only got our trip to the Cotswolds in it so far but I’m sure that’ll pick up soon too (more on that later!)

I went to my favourite new antique place on Saturday and bought a fab 1930s mirror for my bedroom. I’m working on redecorating that room this week so here’s to three nights of sleeping on the sofa… (photos to follow! Not ones of me sleeping.)

I learned a poem for Burns’ Night. One that I felt was quite apt for the moment, with me being so needy and all. I studied this poem at school when I was eight years old and the idea of the friends you had then being your friends until you were really old seemed completely plausible. In fact, I couldn’t imagine not being friends with my ‘bestest pals’ forever. (Must facebook those people, it’s been a long time!)
So it’s recently I’ve come realise how special long-lasting friendships are and how hard we should all work to hang on to them.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And mony a cantie day, John,
We’ve had wi’ ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we’ll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

And finally, in the spirit of indulgence and, importantly, 101 list ticking – I went for a lovely massage  at a new day spa . I may have dozed off at one point. I may have drooled very slightly onto the floor from where my face rested in the hole in the table. I may never admit to this though.

So. What have you been up to?

I’m wearing ballet pumps today, red with big bows on (first time in 2010!)
I bought daffodils and tulips yesterday, they are living in a big bowl in the kitchen.
On Saturday, we ate scallops and langoustines and chips with garlic mayo while drowing ourselves in chilled prosecco, beside a window of bright blue sky and blinding sun.

Spring has sprung then?, nodding with knowledgeable smile.
Er, no, actually. Today is now very grey and wet and I’m wearing a scarf while I sit at my desk. My flowers are lies.

The only spring in my step is the anticipation of Wagamama for dinner tonight with friends, followed by a trip to the GFT to see Gentleman Broncos (with Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords. I am in love with everything about this show.)

iFull

I’ve struggled with whether or not to post this as it’s my favourite secret haunt at the moment. The place I go for lunch every working day, often breakfast too. Secret, in that I make airily vague comments when colleagues ask where I ate each afternoon. “Oh, me? Just some coffee shop, up beside the, uh, near the post office, I think.”
It’s hard enough to get a seat at lunchtime without broadcasting it to other would-be diners. Although currently, unless a certain skinnyknatter drives down from Perthshire each day, I should be ok.

The place is called iFull. It’s a coffee shop/café on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. I’ve been going there almost every day for over a year and used to go sporadically before that. I’ve seen it through a few transitions and it was the rebirth when Mikey and Ros took over early this year, that confirmed me as an iFull-phile.

Homemade cake, the best chicken noodle soup I’ve ever had, hot and sticky pesto-chicken mozarella stuffed paninis and steaming mugs of light hot chocolate and piles of Delicious magazine back issues for me to peruse. What more could a girl want? Maybe gourmet crisps, handmade pasta lasagne, Stoat’s berry porridge, fruit cups, sushi, interesting salads and the fanciest cupcakes I’ve seen in quite a while? Oh yes, they’ve got those.

The staff are really very lovely too. Friendly, always helpful – they remember what I like or don’t like (no butter, no salad dressing, wholemeal bread rolls please, no salt in soup. Fussy, me?) It’s like having your mates chat to you while making your lunch. And then leaving you in peace while you eat it and read a magazine. And then, well, charging you for it. But very, very reasonably so.

I’m actually a wee bit in love with the place.

Bump in the road

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I’ve recently escaped (after much/constant begging for release) from hospital and am at home being pampered to a slightly ridiculous degree. I’m feeling much better.

Not being well, being in hospital and everything involved in what that means for the future has been a real bump in the road for me. When you’re whizzing happily along the path on your (fantasy) bicycle – mine has long rainbow-coloured streamers flying from the handlebars and is named Juliette – it’s easy to be too wrapped up in watching the clouds overhead or calling to fellow cyclists behind you to notice a bump in the road. And when you hit the bump, and therefore the ground, it comes as much more of a shock than if you’d had your eyes to the ground, waiting for it.

A bit of me is angry at myself for being so blase about how lovely and easy the going was. And my assumptions that the path would always be smooth and lead exactly where I imagined.
But now that I’m clambering back into the saddle, I’m sad at the idea that I won’t be the person whistling along without a care in the world. That’s up to me though really. From now on, I’m going to make a concentrated effort to look closely at the pretty things around me and appreciate the people along for the ride. And when other bumps in the path appear in the future, I can’t say how grateful I am for all the friends and family I have who are waiting with magic cream, sticking plasters and homemade honeycomb!

Tasty Delights

I forgot I made clementine curd! Well, I forgot to tell you I made it. From Jamie Oliver’s Christms magazine – which was great, actually.
And I forgot to take photos of said curd but please believe me when I tell you it did exist!
A tip for any curdmakers out there – it takes a long time stirring it to get it up to the correct consistency. I was thinking a 5 minute stir but no, it was nearer 20 mins. I think my clementines were very ripe though so may have been juicier than others, hence more liquid. Either way, stir away and then stir some more. You’re not doing it wrong.

In other news, I went to Loch Leven’s Larder with a lovely friend (and her mum, hehe!) the other day and got some components of my Seven Days of Specialness swap item. Very excited about this.
Loch Leven’s Larder itself is just fab – great little cafe and even better little shop. They were selling off festive items at 25% off everything which was nice but I’ll definitely be back as spring creeps in to see their new collection. Thanks for the introduction Annie!

Right, I’m off to do more swap-work!

A place to make

I’ve finally got round to finding a wee nook for all my craft stuff. What a relief! I say ‘all’ my craft stuff, and that’s not quite true. There’s a load of lesser used material in a trunk in my bedroom but for the moment, here is the new home of my day-to-day sewing stuff.

Just need to paint it white and put on a beautiful new jewelled drawer handle I got at Bombay Duck and I’m done! Hmm, maybe retake the shot in daylight (when we get some) – it’s every so slightly fake-tan orange, no?