A week of simple slow living…

What a lovely week I’ve had since my last blog post.  I’ve been consciously trying to slow down and be mindful of those instances when I am feeling calm and serene which I focus on enjoying.  Don’t get me wrong, the old pangs of anxiety have often reared their ugly head but when they have I’ve talked them down and frankly asked them to bugger off.  Usually it works..!  Anxiety is definitely something that has plagued me since I was a tiny girl and I was under the impression that having ‘butterflies in my tummy’ all of the time was a pretty normal way to feel.  Clearly as I’ve got older I know it’s not and for the sake of my own health and happiness and hopefully my future children’s I am endeavouring to make life changes in order to reduce my anxiety.   In this post I am going to write about some of the little things I have done which have made me feel a genuine sense of calm and cheer.

Let’s start with food…because that’s usually the thing that occupies my mind the most!  I created the most delicious slow cooked chorizo, bean and leek stew I ever could have imagined (sorry to toot my own horn so blaringly but when something goes right you have to acknowledge it!)  I used my favourite Brindisa cooking chorizo with my all time favourite Brindisa Navarrico Large Butter Beans.  Despite having a gazillion recipe books (and the collection grows almost every week) I really enjoy cooking without anything to follow.  I love seeing what is in the fridge and coming up with a recipe based on what we have.  I flinch at how much I used to chuck away simply because I had not planned well enough.  As I become older though I become a bit less frivolous with buying lots of food and a bit more conscious of not wasting anything.  Perhaps this is my hubby’s awesome mother and nanny rubbing off on me who would genuinely save and make good use of a left over teaspoon of baked beans.  We live in such difficult times where more people are having to access Food Banks than ever before and it’s important to respect the food we have and try not to waste anything.  On a lighter and sillier note it also sort of feels like Ready Steady Cook trying to rustle something up with only limited ingredients!

Has anyone ever noticed how beautiful leeks are?!

IMG_6800

In the midst of cooking….

IMG_6802

As the week progressed I started unpacking my vast array of recipe books and came across my River Cottage Handbook on cakes.  I started to flick through it and realised that in all my years of baking (there’s been A LOT of cakes) I have never made a Victoria Sponge, which frankly is a bit absurd.

IMG_6865

So I did!

IMG_6868.JPG

I also found my little pie bird and knowing I needed to use up the bacon, mushrooms and leeks in the fridge I made a chicken pie…. again toot toot, absolutely delicious!  Served with a nice mustardy spinach salad and this went down a treat!

IMG_6873

Now I’m a girl who loves a bargain and I stumbled across a huge pot of these Narcissus Bridal Crown daffodils in Waitrose….for 45p a bunch.  So I bought 5 bunches!  One of the loveliest things about the start of Spring is the arrival of daffodils but these take it to another level.  They are so colourful and frilly and their fragrance fills the room with the most beautiful scent.

IMG_6867IMG_6874.JPG

Now a confession… hubby and I have never seen Homeland or Broadchurch before.  I know I know…heard it all before.  We’ve been gradually working our way through Homeland but on Sunday we snuggled up on the sofa and had an intense binge session of Broadchurch.  We watched the entire first season and well…wow.  I completely understand why everyone was so into it and I do regret not watching it at a time when everyone was talking about.  Olivia Coleman is just wonderful in it as is David Tennant.

We went shopping on Saturday and found a sofa, finally!  It’s the perfect size for our nook and now it’s just about choosing which fabric we would like for it to be in.  Easier said than done!  We’re just waiting for some samples to arrive and then we can press on ahead.  We also found a bed we very much like for the main bedroom on Saturday.  Initially we had our hearts set on the Seba bed from Lombok which is made from Indonesian teak but because we’re now having such light wooden floors in there we didn’t feel it would look right.  So we’re going for a fabric bedstead which will give us a softer look in the room.

The house is still coming along beautifully.  Late last week we had the Victorian sash windows installed throughout the house and they look stunning.  Game changer.  They have genuinely transformed the look and feel of the house from inside and out.  They were extraordinarily expensive so I did always have an anxiety that it would not be money well spent but I was wrong and… I can’t stop looking at them!

The bathroom is now tiled and some of it is grouted and hopefully soon the shower fixtures will also go in.

And one of the most exciting parts is… the front door is in and the old gross one is out!  We have bought satin brass door furniture and we have decided to paint the door Farrow and Ball Lichen.  It’s a beautiful shade of green that we both feel would look lovely with the red brick and would suit all seasons.  I’m already picturing how a wreath would look on it… but that’s my unhealthy obsession with Christmas which does not seem to abate, no matter what month of the year it is!

IMG_6837.JPG

Tomorrow I’m spending the day with my mum and we’re going to go to Petersham Nurseries as I want to get some inspiration for the garden which we’re going to get started on quite soon.  Our lawn is currently not a lawn but a bit of land with the occasional sad sprout of weed that rears it’s eager little head.  It’s clear that it’s beyond the point of no return so we will need to dig it all up and prepare the ground for some new turf.  This is all very very new to us so if anyone has any gardening tips for setting down new lawn please do let us know!  Also I would love to plant some fruit or veg that doesn’t require a huge amount of space so if anyone has any tips on that I would welcome them…. I wonder if they do a Gardening for Dummies book…

Speaking of books I spent some lovely hours in the garden this week soaking up some rays and working my way through two very different books.  One of which is Roald Dahl’s Matilda.  Yet another embarrassing confession… I have never ever read Matilda.  When my friend found this out she looked at me as if I had sprouted a second nose right in front of her and then she automatically brought her daughter’s copy in for me the following day.  I appeared to have committed a cardinal sin so I got to reading.  It’s incredible, I love Roald Dahl’s The BFG more than life itself so it is a bit of a travesty that my folks never gave this to me.  It’s a lovely book and I was utterly absorbed in sweet little Matilda’s world for a good while…

IMG_6824.JPG

I also stumbled across this little book from a shop I was in…. I couldn’t resist.

IMG_6810.JPG

It’s genuinely hilarious but thought provoking and also made me feel that despite some of the most horrendous events that occurred last year… onwards and upwards and let’s all stick together to make this world a bit of a better place.

I hope everyone has had a lovely week and are enjoying the sun you might have had… 🙂

As said before, if anyone does have any tips for setting down new lawn or on what to plant at this time of year I would be very grateful x

 

Spring has sprung!

IMG_6781

So what a beautiful few days it’s been…  it really does feel like spring has reared it’s beautiful little head and each day is getting a tad bit warmer.  The magnolia trees seem to be in their glory at the moment and each street I turn down there is another beauty awaiting for me to get a bit too snap happy.

On Friday I had my leaving do at work.  Usually I’m the sort of girl to cry at an Andrex advert, not to mention every single episode of Gogglebox to air (our favourite programme by the way!)  However on this occasion I didn’t shed a single tear, nor did I feel close.  I’ve been there for 6 years and made some incredible friends.  The work I’ve done has been exhausting, stimulating, inspiring and at times incredibly anxiety provoking!  However I just felt a bit numb which I’m wondering is down to sheer exhaustion.  Also perhaps a sign that I am ready for a new chapter, whatever that might be.

New chapters… life is pretty structured and regimented I find.  There is a level of guilt if one chooses to back out of a career they’ve spent years carving even if it makes them miserable and is detrimental to their health.  There is that sense of ‘I must persevere because what might people think if I quit?’  I’ve been that person and I know countless others who also feel the same.  There’s the natural fear of what will I do next?  How will I stay accustomed to the way of life I’ve become so used to?  Yet sometimes the stress and unhappiness that accompanies a person is just not worth sticking with something just for the sake of sticking with it.  Perhaps Friday marked that day for me and I felt nothing but open hope walking away from a job that has provided me with good humour and friendship but overriding anxiety and the sort of stress that makes me unable to switch off on weekends.

Saturday I simply sat in my PJs and ordered pizza whilst catching up on Netflix…bliss!  Oh and I was also in need of a serious detox so drank lots of this…

IMG_6778

Mothering Sunday was another beautiful day.  Hubby spent hours sorting out the clutter in the house and I went out to get flowers for my mum from our local florist.

IMG_6782

We had a lovely meal with my parents in Belsize Park in the evening.  I started to talk to her about all of the things I want to do on my time off and we both agreed to do some of them together so that we could spent some quality mother daughter time!  One of the ideas was to go to an antiques fair and I personally want to go to every museum I can.  This is something I never would have felt like doing when I was highly strung and stressed with work so I’m going to make the most of my newfound freedom and broaden my cultural horizons!

Monday definitely felt strange, just not having that structure and routine I’ve been so used to for over a decade.  I had lots of tasks I needed to do which I did before midday…!  Leading such a hectic work life meant that I have become accustomed to doing things like Speedy Gonzales… however time to slow down!  I have realised I will need to actively work at walking slower, taking more time to notice beautiful things around me… and I can’t wait!

Yesterday afternoon the sun was shining on my garden so I took my new recipe book outside (I definitely have a recipe book addiction!) and started reading through it.  I cannot wait to start cooking some of the beautiful dal dishes it speaks about from all regions of India.  Such a beautiful book and I would encourage anyone who enjoys dal to buy it.

IMG_6790.JPG

Today if I’m being honest I feel a little lacklustre.  I don’t have any urgent tasks and I’m a little under the weather so I’ve been resting up and ordering in the weekly food shop.  However…around me the house is a bit hectic.  The new sash windows and front door arrived today and I cannot wait to see them when the are installed!   The house is definitely coming along.  The bathroom is being tiled in the small hexagonal white we spent ages choosing.  The bedroom walls are being painted (we went for Valspar Quiet Interlude for the back wall) and our walk in wardrobe is now plastered and painted ready for rails and shelves to be installed!

Everything still looks so dusty and in disrepair that it’s hard to imagine all of it actually getting done and looking how we want!  It’s getting there though and I just cannot wait to be able to walk through the house without saturating my feet in dust!

Does anyone have any recommendations for where to buy a nice sofa from?  We need to prioritise this but are struggling to find something that will fit perfectly in the space….

Happy week to you all!! xoxo