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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Food Culture and Crispy Goodness

Hasselback Potatoes

I’ve always enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen, but lacked confidence to share it with others. My style is not sophisticated, neither is it unique. I just love feeding people and having them gather around my table. The culture of eating together, was something I was brought up with. Whenever I have lived with at least one other person, I have rarely eaten alone of an evening. And when I lived alone, I was always gathering friends round to share one pot wonders with. My food tends to be low-key and as low-fuss as possible. I have always cooked creatively but frugally. People will compliment me on my cooking from time to time, but more often than not they simply emit polite murmurs of appreciation as they tuck in. My food does not become the specific subject of conversation at the table, although we are a greedy lot – future meals or interesting ingredients are often discussed whilst we eat! For me, a shared meal is about providing nourishment for the body but more importantly, it is about togetherness and conversation – food for the soul.

I have a confession. I rarely follow recipes. I get that from my mum. She is the ultimate in hosting random people who show up on the doorstep and accidentally stay on for dinner. Whatever is in the fridge, freezer or cupboard will be thrown together to create a hearty meal. So, I’ve also had some fun writing my own recipes in 2012, working out what quantities I used on a particular occasion, knowing that it will probably never happen in the same way again! (That is with the exception of baking, almost. I still can’t help throwing in some randoms just because I feel like it – a bit risky, seeing as baking can be a little like Chemistry lessons sometimes. Although I must admit, happy accidents do often occur.)

I often eat late now, I cook and then wait for my munching partner. And by the time we eat, the food has been kept warm to death. I am ravenous and food is food. A dinner is polished off in much less time than it took to prepare and cook it. However, as I blogged over the past year, I came to realise how much I enjoy cooking and eating my own food. I have my trusted favourites, my store cupboard staples, my preferences and routines, but discovering and exchanging lots of ideas with other bloggers has given me the impetus to explore further.

What a wonderful invention is the oven. And what a wonderful climate we have in the UK to use it. In recent years, I have not even broken sweat when using the oven in summer. One of my favourite things to do is to roast a chicken, together with potatoes and root veg. I marinade the chicken, or simply rub it in olive oil, salt and pepper. I then cube potatoes and root veg in similar sizes and toss those in the same. I’ll time it so that the veg gets about 45-60 minutes in the oven, so if the chicken needs longer, I will add the veg into the roasting tin later.

Even though I generally consider myself a healthy eater, I do have an addiction a soft spot for crisps. I’ll eat my potatoes made any way, but I love them fried or even double and triple fried (by a restaurant – I hate deep fat frying at home). So imagine my excitement when Pinterest kept throwing up these little beauties… a concertina of crispiness called  Hasselback Potatoes. I just had to experiment with them myself. They are baked, and the only difference I could tell between making these and my roasted easies was that you sliced them through (almost) whole first, before baking. Oh, and it’s best not to put them in with the chicken I imagine. The yummy chicken juices soaking into the potatoes will not be conducive to crispiness-making.

Well.. unusually, there are no photos with this post even though I took some. I just felt like having another go at drawing again. But I did stumble across a cute little article complete with videos, if you want to amuse yourself taking photos of food in a restaurant.

What are your cultural habits when it comes to food? Do you enjoy cooking and eating your own food? And, most quite importantly, do you like crisps/potato chips? :)


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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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Phew…

I’m back! Well, I’m feeling a bit tentative, as I’m going to have to adjust my schedule a little again from Saturday. However, I want to be back, so I’m here!

I’ve actually climbed back into relative normality for almost two weeks now, since falling off the blog-wagon, but just could not bring myself to write. Instead, I took solace in catching up with the hundreds of posts that I’d missed over the month. It’s got to the point where I just could not wait to get back into writing – I’ve missed being a part of the community and making my contribution to the conversations.

It’s been too long. When I was in the middle of catching up with things, this cartoon stopped me in my tracks:

What’s your Question, Honey? By Matt Gajdoš

What’s your Question, Honey? By Matt Gajdoš – featured with permission

I’m sure this was actually a portrait of me, whilst faced with the prospect of blogging again. It’s from one of my favourite bloggers, Matt Gajdoš whose blog I featured here. It made me smile and feel that I wasn’t alone, even if it might mean my peers are the elementary school kids that Matt teaches. Hey, if they can do it, so can I right?

And then, talking about inspiration, there is Laura Williams, a super talented artist who draws the most beautiful portraits of horses and dogs (here‘s one of her latest that I love – it’s not even finished and it looks amazing already.) Note, she’s just started accepting orders for commissioned pet portraits for Christmas. Really, do take a look. I love how her portraits are so soulful and alive. I always feel as though I can reach through the screen to stroke the animals and they will respond! Not only is Laura very gifted, she’s also most generous. She nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award whilst I was away doing nothing to my blog. I’m so thankful for your encouragement, Laura!

I have been owing an award post for a while now, since Matt of the above nominated me irrationally for a few at the same time. (I can’t believe that post was way back in June…uh…sorry for the delay Matt, and thank you again!) I’m sure there is some big award rule out there that says you can’t do that, but I’m not going to complain.

I thought writing about other blogs would be a great way to return to writing, because the community of lovely blogging people and the great stuff out there is what makes me want to keep on keeping on. So I’m going to start a real awards train – I’ll spend 5 posts nominating blogs I enjoy that for me, can be described by those awards, starting hopefully from next week (because if I don’t hit publish in the next five minutes, I will never get started again!) I’ll be breaking every rule in the book in the process as I don’t have anything exciting to write about me, and I’m not going to look up each award’s rules for how many people you’re allowed to nominate…I’m going to wing it!

Happy weekend! Thanks for having me back and for reading even though I’ve been so quiet. I truly truly appreciate it :)


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Introducing Mr. G

Frivolous Fridays are a celebration of the lighter side of life, and we all need some of that. Even if it has to be hidden somewhere in the dark, buried where no one else can see it. Somewhere, there needs to be light, or we can’t live. So, we’ve got to Friday, let’s celebrate!

And what a way to begin the series…with Mr. G and his wonderful kids! I stumbled ROFL onto the Mr. G comic blog just this week (actually, I think the artist Matt Gajdoš might have stumbled onto my blog first, and aren’t I glad for it)! It has been one of those weeks when I won’t even remember what has been happening if I don’t brew myself a quality Earl Grey and sit down for a good long think. Except that I’ve run out of Earl Grey..so you’re out of luck.

Anyway…where was I?

Aah…here’s a treat for you if, like me, you could do with a daily pick-me-up. Look no further for the reason why I think you should all go on over and have some deep belly chuckles at Mr. G.

Mr.G : FLOWERS

Matt Gajdoš : Flowers
(This is the one that got me hooked..aww..*chuckles*)

I love the reference to yellow in this particular post. The more I look at it, the more I love it. I think because yellow is such a bright and cheerful colour. Right now, it’s grey outside and pouring with rain. But yellow is the colour of sunshine, sunflowers, daffodils, dandelions, daisy hearts, buttercups and lemons…which make lemonade! Yellow is in spring, summer and autumn…aaah I’m bursting with bright yellow happiness. I totally know what yellow smells like :D

Mr. G is “A 100% true comic about stuff kids say in elementary school” and if you have kids or have ever worked with them, I think you’d say it’s the truth in how the kids talk and the spot-on way Matt captures their expressions that makes this a winning, heart-warming comic. Genius!

Needless to say, I am now a follower, and Mr. G even updates every weekday at midnight GMT. Great if you want to have cheerful dreams! Thanks Matt!


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ziggyshortcrust : An Elf Child is born

When I started this blog, I never in a million years thought that I would so quickly meet such amazing people with such wonderful talents. I thought that I would look at it as a bit like a personal journal. Write a bit, see how it goes, and maybe tell my friends after a while what I was doing. See if they would be interested in reading.

So I was blown away, when I received my first comment on Monday.

Knowing that someone else out there is reading my blog, that’s something. Getting my first comment, that’s pretty special. Receiving my first comment from someone who deals in “Scribbles, Doodles and Campervan Tootles”…that’s quite charming. Going on that person’s blog and finding that she’s a tea aficionado and works in a museum dedicated to the art in children’s books is kinda getting really magical…then finding that she spends a few minutes a day putting a fine liner to paper and creating elves…that’s simply enchanting stuff…especially if you get to ask for your very own elf! So how could I resist?

An Elf Child is born

ziggyshortcrust : An Elf Child is born

I came home from work yesterday to find that I now have an elf child, and it would be an understatement to say that it made my day. I might be biased, seeing as she is my elf child… but I think that she has the makings of a real children’s story book character…what do you think?

Make sure you pop over to ziggyshortcrust to see the magic for yourself…Thank you again Ziggy!

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