this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


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New Year Firsts (i): Woolly Wednesdays

So blogging is a journey, and on a journey you might just take a straight path, but I’m not one of those people. My paths generally are all windy and crooked. They often loop back on themselves and sometimes they lead to a dead end. More often than not, I probably don’t know where the path is and go wandering off. So that’s me. Nuts and confused. Early last year when I tried give each day a theme to help schedule my blog posts, some of them inspired more than others. I’m not going to ditch any of the old ideas, because they are working for me, I’m just adding new ones. So here’s introducing Woolly Wednesdays!

If you have been reading my meanderings for a while, you may have noticed that I love the woolly stuff. And that I have been playing about with it a bit. I got a bit of shoulder trouble at the end of 2012, and although it seems not to have recovered 100%, I can’t stay away from the sheepies and am carefully knitting again trying not to get carried away for hours on end.

In my Wonder Wool post, I shared a hat that I was knitting for a friend. She lives in the land of the recent horrendous bush fires, hence it was not previously appropriate to send it to her. I mean, it was the height of summer during our freezing winter! I had wanted to enclose a surprise in the eventual package, and have made a decision to finish it in time to send it for her birthday next month. The surprise is a first for me and I’m really, really excited. I’m sticking with knitting and not moving onto crochet, because there are different steps I want to practice. Here’s a little peek of what I’ve done so far… what do you think I’m knitting?

What am I knitting?

And why not ask another question to get to know you better? Are you a focused, clear-headed traveller through life or more a hopeless, woolly wanderer? :P


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Scribbling on the wall

Feeling a bit lost for words. Not taking to the blogging very easily right now. I have a load of posts in the queue that I want to write, but the words are getting stuck somewhere and I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps in spite of the beautiful snow.

In an attempt not to get stuck in the black hole of despair, I decided to do something different. A digital doodle using a surprise Christmas present I received. I’ve been holding back and telling myself I’d use it as a reward for having organised things. But organisation is hitting a wall today, and I feel like I accidentally got crumpled up and smashed against the wall with it.

By contrast, you are all being so very impressive. We’re in the last third of January and all the resolutions are going so well! Roxy has not just been sharing a photo a day, she’s been making me envious of the amount of sunshine in the stories attached. Although the snow photo is my absolute favourite so far, followed very closely by the yellow butterfly. Ziggy has already written TWENTY letters with elves on them, and they have been flying all over the world. Ginna even went and ran a marathon on Saturday (woah, yes, I know! I’m in awe of anyone who runs further than the bus stop.)

I feel like a lazy bum, so here is the result of gingerly peeling myself off the wall and trying to do something positive, albeit so quick and unpolished:

Experiment

How is 2013 treating you so far? Have you set yourself any challenges and how are they going?


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2013: We can do this thing… together!

It’s been somewhat overwhelming, reading everyone else’s inspiring posts stuffed with new projects and progress planned for 2013. You all seem to have been ahead of the game, either pre-scheduling posts or mapping out the year to come well in advance. I expected a lull for at least a few days, but it turned out that many bloggers took one day off and were back online on Boxing Day with feature length posts or some even putting up multiple offerings! I decided to sit back lazily, give myself some days off over the Christmas-New Year period and just enjoy all your hard work. Well someone’s got to do it! ;)

this is lemonade on Pinterest   this is lemonade on Facebook

I’ve maximised my absorption period by pinning all the ideas and images that inspired me and fumbling around on Facebook (your feedback would be most appreciated!). I’ve also been organising my life a little around the home (which I hope to share) and I’ve been eating and taking photographs of my exploits in the kitchen (which I also hope to share). I have been thoroughly enjoying the downtime and am making plans to resume my knitting as well, before the winter is over!

The end of 2012 was one of thanksgiving for me. I underwent a routine medical procedure following which I was advised, among other things, not to partake in any housework. With this instruction, needless to say, I gladly complied – thank you for your encouragement ;) On New Year’s Eve, I was the grateful recipient of a generally positive verdict on my health. I cannot honestly say that I have used every God-given moment of 2012 to its full potential, and with a new lease of life I hope to improve on that in 2013! So without further ado, let me throw out some goals I have for the year ahead:

  • to live by the intention of this blog: be grateful in good times and bad.
  • to get my home, schedule and responsibilities in good order.
  • to get more creative with yarn, thread, pen, camera and food.
  • to give more thought and time to offline, tangible investments in my relationships.
  • to get into pilates. (This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, any tips welcome!)

Thank you for being my encouragers through the life of this blog in 2012. I am truly grateful and feel so inspired by all the hopes and seriously ambitious goals you have shared for 2013. I’m so privileged to have your support to carry onwards and upwards with this is lemonade. Who knows what adventures and challenges this year will bring? I wish you the very best, much strength and great courage to take this year in both hands and to live it to the full! Happy New Year :)


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WordPress selectively broken?

Hello dear precious readers,

Have any of you found that you are not getting feeds from all the blogs that you have followed on WordPress? In the past week or so, I clicked on two blogs that I hadn’t read any posts from for a while, with the intention of leaving a friendly message to see if the bloggers were ok. They were prolific bloggers and I figured if they weren’t blogging, something might be wrong.

Turns out it was WordPress (I think) unless someone can point out that I’ve been a bit daft or need new glasses. I mean, WordPress does show me a nice tick next to these blogs to confirm that I’m following them and the bloggers have thankfully been happily and busily blogging away all this time. It’s just nobody told me about it!

And there I was, worrying my poor little head about them…

One thing in common between these two blogs is that they both have their own url. I don’t know if that made a difference. When I have time I will need to check through all my favourite blogs to see if I’ve been missing out on more than I thought. Might need to have a quick chat with Mr Mullenweg to see if things are running ok at HQ ;)

Well I just thought I’d drop you a quick note to see if the powers that be are just frowning down on me, or if anyone else was finding that this has been happening to them? Hello? Did anyone get my post in their feed? Please let me know :)

Have a good end-of-the-weekend!

Door Keys


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All psyched up to go home

Last week, on my way home, I actually took a seat on the train. I was ill equipped to occupy myself in a useful way as usual, so I just sat and stared at random patterns and adverts.

About two stops into my journey, a man in his thirties or so got on. He had in-ear buds plugged in and tinny beats emanating from his head to the rest of the passengers. I suddenly realised that all the men in my section of the carriage, bar one, had their ears stopped up with various portable speakers. There were two other sets of nondescript ear buds. One young crisply suited male had a spotless almost glowing Beats by Dr. Dre halo clamping down on his ears. Another two had black-coloured headphones in a similar but less trendy style (the kind that could double up as ear-muffs). Another man slouched against one of the high seats at the end of the carriage, his head drooping as he dipped in and out of a fitful snooze.

My mind quickly referenced an article I had read recently about athletes training and psyching themselves up to motivational music. I wondered what these guys were getting ready for. The music did not seem generally to be of the kind that helps you to relax judging by the sounds from some of the headphones and the bouncing chins of the other wearers whose music I could not hear. (Notable exception could be the guy who was semi-conscious.)

(I must say I wouldn’t mind having one of these Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones for every Tube journey. I stepped foot in a Bose shop for the first time a couple of weeks ago out of curiosity, and recommend that anyone that has not tried these does so for the pure amazement value. Once you have experienced them, the attached price tag will no longer surprise you. I can imagine if I had a pair, every Tube journey in future would be like an out-of-body experience!)

That day’s observation did bring to mind the fact that there is a different story behind each person with whom I rub shoulders, literally or metaphorically, on my daily commute. We may all wear a similar uniform. We may even enjoy similar tastes in music. Each of us probably sports a familiar blank look as we meander home by various means. But we each go back to a different place and life can be very very different behind each door that we severally close behind us at the end of that journey.

Door KeysFor some, on the other side of the door is a refuge from the world. For others, to open that door is to leave a refuge behind for the night. For still others, the door opens a gaping hole of emptiness which envelops that person until he emerges again the next day. Then there are those we do not realise have no doors to journey to and live a expertly fabricated deception that we so readily believe. We can live so closely alongside one another, and yet, we can be such solitary souls.

I have no deep insights to offer on this trailing thought. I’ll try to remember to make lemonade and share it around while I know how. I am just glad that behind my closed door, I can open up this world here from time to time, and see your smiling and encouraging faces.

Oats so nourishing


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Oat so nourishing – in celebration of a British summer

Aaah the beautiful long days of the British summer….dreary, rainy, windy…I’d much rather have burrowed deep under my duvet and hibernated for the last few weeks. Does anyone remember the freak spell of hot weather a few weeks back? I do, just about, but I cheated – more about that later. But mid-week, I gave up and turned on the central heating again. Just for two hours a day, so that I wouldn’t fall over in the shower from excessive shivering! Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert fame is asking everyone in a poll: Is your central heating on? Good question…what’s your answer as we rapidly approach the summer solstice?

In all honesty, I do love wintry things like snuggling up in cosy pyjamas, wearing fluffy warm slippers and eating comfort food – anything with gravy and mash! And because it’s not been all that warm I’ve had the best of both worlds I guess – longer days and cosy nights. And having the heavens water my garden for me is not something I feel the need to complain about, even though as of yesterday, the hose pipe ban in my area was lifted thanks to the recent heavy rain!

So in the spirit of this year’s very temperamental British summer, I’m going to share something comforting that reminds me of cosy mornings. The smell of it awakens memories of getting up in the dark, wrapping myself in anything as akin to a blanket as possible and shuffling downstairs in thick socks to breakfast: porridge. Truly comforting, the smell of oats is indulgent and yet so familiar it warms you from the inside.

Oats so nourishingWell…not quite porridge – an oatmeal face scrub-mask. Yep, it smells like putting really yummy porridge on your face. Although I can’t say I feel like licking something off my face after I’ve used it to suck the dirt out of my pores. Because that is exactly what it does. After using it for the first time, not only had the redness around my nostrils calmed down, the blackheads (eww, sorry) that had started accumulating on my nose had been REMOVED too. Amazing!

I am going to describe the pure version and then a more glorified version that I made up by combining ingredients I like. I tried, tested and loved the second mask, and it’s personally very good for me.

  • My skin-type: quite sensitive, combination-dry.
  • Disclaimer: try them carefully on a inconspicuous patch of skin first in case you have an allergy. Always be careful to apply away from the eye area.

Oats so nourishingPure Oat Scrub-Mask

  • 1 teaspoon oats
  • 1 tablespoon water (temperature of your choosing, I prefer cold to tepid)

I first saw this on Bubzbeauty “Beautiful Skin Remedy“. I place the ingredients in a small dish and knead the oats a bit to get all the goodness out. I find these quantities are sufficient for a simple 2 minute wash but you might want to vary them according to your preference. The longer you soak the oats for beforehand, the more they swell up and make the water milky.

Make sure you don’t drain it off. The oat “milk” is lovely and nourishing! I just apply it all with my fingertips and hands. If you are using it as a mask, simply leave it to set for a few minutes before washing off, massaging your skin in circular motions.

Oats so nourishingBrightening Oat Mask

  • 1 teaspoon natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon gram flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice water
  • 1 teaspoon crushed oats (I used a pestle and mortar)

This mask is great for brightening your skin and refining your pores. Mix ingredients into a smooth paste and apply to face. Leave on for 5-10 minutes. Wash off by wetting your fingertips and massaging mask off gently in circular motions.

I like to apply this cold – using the yoghurt straight from the fridge is very soothing and refreshing on the face. Gram flour is made from chickpeas and can be found in South Asian supermarkets or the world section of your local supermarket. It has gentle exfoliating properties and is better than wheat flour if you can get it.

I collected the cold rice water from the last time I washed some rice I was about to cook. I infused it with oats and left to steep for the amount of time it took me to eat my dinner and wash up. I then pressed the oats, strained off the water into a small bottle and kept it in the fridge.

Is anyone watching Euro 2012 by the way? It’s half time in the England v Sweden match now, I think I need to dash to the loo. You have a few minutes to get a quick mask on if you’re swift! ;)


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Quick Supper : Sesame Prawns with Dill

Thank you for bearing with me – it has been a couple of crazy weeks and I am exhausted. I didn’t go for my last minute supermarket sweep to stock up before the beginning of the week, so I was living off what remained in my fridge from the week before, along with dwindling freezer and pantry stocks. I’ve been doing too many hasty shopping trips in the past month or so without replenishing my stash of tins or frozen ingredients (except for buying a couple of tubs of reduced Carte d’or ice cream!)

By the end of yesterday, there was not that much left. The minced beef had been defrosted and stretched into two comforting meals with all the carrots; I’d lazily stuck the Ginster’s Cornish Pasties straight from the freezer into the oven on Monday evening, and midweek I’d popped down the chippy for my favourite British fare . But, thankfully, my freezer was harbouring an indulgent secret.

I’m someone who lives by the “save the best for last” principle, and almost making it through this week calls for a small celebration. Frozen tiger prawns to be exact. Whenever there is a deal, I stock up. They make for a tasty treat for those rainy days when I don’t want a heavy dinner and I need it to be quick. (Talking about celebrations…although any Jubilee festive spirit has long evaporated, I do have a special post up my sleeve for when I find some head space.)

Sesame Prawns

Prawns are nature’s fast-food; enough protein to satisfy but so super quick to cook that you’ve barely heated up the pan and you’re turning off the gas again. I put the prawns into the fridge to defrost overnight, expecting that my hunger would direct me as to what to do with them this evening.

I already mentioned that I rather like sesame seeds here. A bunch of dill I picked up last time I purchased groceries has been keeping very well in the fridge. There was a lot of it, so I have been experimenting (I tried it in the beef mince and it was yummy!) Dill with seafood is a classic combination, but I thought I’d mix things up a bit and see whether sesame and dill would work together. Yup. It was tasty.

Sesame Prawns

Sesame Prawns with Dill

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 225g raw large king prawns
  • 2 tsp chopped dill
  • 3 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sesame oil
  • Soya sauce

Heat up the pan until hot and add vegetable oil. Allow oil to start smoking and add the prawns. Stir as they fry so that they are cooked evenly.

As the prawns become pink, add the dill and sesame seeds. Add pepper, sesame oil and a dash of soya sauce to taste. When there is no more grey on the prawns turn off the heat. Allow prawns to become opaque before transferring onto a plate for serving.

Be careful not to overcook the prawns. Avoid allowing them to clench up into a tight circle if you want them to retain a fresh bite rather than becoming chewy.

What do you whip up when you need a quick but satisfying pick-me-up meal?


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Untitled #4

image

Many apologies. I have been really busy so my thanks for playing along with my frivolous photo project. I will reveal all the subjects in a post soon but let’s have another one in the meantime.

It’s been fun reading your suggestions. I think this one is easier…but then, does it make it more difficult to be creative?

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