Thursday, 30 September 2010

A Day Out

Before I went back to work I had a couple of days when the boys were at school. It was a bit strange to have this time to myself...and rather nice. After a brief discussion with myself (yes, yes, it's the road to madness) I swiftly threw off any ideas about clearing out cupboards, sorting through papers, blah, blah, and decided to head out instead. I went to visit Scotland's Housing Expo, a local development of 52 sustainable homes.  The sun shone, I kept bumping into friends and it was a really interesting day. We went to something similar in Sweden some years back and it was great to see the Scandinavian influence in the Highlands. Having said that, some of the architecture was a bit too modern for me - and a bit bonkers too. Who would want to live in a home where the kitchen was downstairs and the dining room a rather long haul upstairs? Not designed by a cook, I suspect...
However, one of my favourites was the ANTA house , a tiny but very cosy home. I love their pottery and fabric, but it's horribly expensive. Still, very inspiring, nonetheless. Check out that wash hand basin!

There were quite a lot of lovely crafts on display too. Here's a couple of my those owls!

Beats clearing out any day...

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A New Rhythm

Oh dear, a month has almost passed since my last posting, how did that happen? My absence has been due to a big shift of lifestyle. When my oldest was born (over seven years ago - unbelievable) I stepped back from a full time position of responsibility at L'Arche, in order to focus on  my new life as a mother, which I have absolutely loved. I didn't stop being involved in the Community, sometimes in small ways such as having folk over to lunch, sometimes in bigger projects like organising the whole community to go away on pilgrimage. It's been a great honour to have had so much time at home with the boys while they have been young, but now my youngest has started school, and it is time to start working again. It has taken me many month to feel ready, and a certain amount of heart searching, coupled with seeing the end of nursery days, which have been so very precious. However, several boxes of tissues later, and with peace in my heart, I am very much enjoying being back in a L'Arche house four days a week. Happily, I am normally at home by the time the boys are and I won't be working school holidays.

So far, so good, and I am trying to move slowly into this new rhythm of life. My day (without family) at home has become very precious and I am still trying to work out how to use it best (cleaning? swimming?shopping? painting?laundry?sewing?garden?walking?sleeping?? The choices are many). Being mega-organised does not come naturally to me, but I am getting some things right. The weekend together is a time to preserve some of our rituals and traditions, which seem more precious to me now - maybe my sense of 'home' is coming into a sharper focus, now that I am not here so much. Possibly the most important - rain permitting- is our walks and picnics which we try to keep going all year around. Even a small contact with the landscape we love so much helps to feel more rested and peaceful. And of course, it indulges many of our various passions!

Other weekend traditions? My French husband gets the family Gold Star for getting up on Sunday and making us all crepes, which we love, love, love! And what could be nicer than Golden Syrup?Off the spoon, if at all possible.

Breakfast anyday is an important meal for us. We each have a sense of what we need first thing. J likes eggs and marmite soldiers, for T it has to be cereal or porridge, my beloved is a toast and (his) homemade jam man. I do love toast too, but if there is time then fruit salad, yoghurt and granola is the very best (just now!).

Even with the new pattern of work, it doesn't long to whip up a batch of granola on a Sunday evening. We first got introduced to it in Canada when I was about 11. It's perfect for a snack or putting on top of yog or fruit for a simple pudding, or eating on the go. Here is my swiftest recipe, although there are many variations out there:
 Half a Cup Granola
For us British folk, something like a teacup works well, otherwise I use a half cup measure for speed of making and cleaning up.

3 1/2 cups (that's 7 half cups) porridge oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chopped nuts - I like almonds or hazlenuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup rapeseed oil
1/2 cup honey
good tablespoon of peanut butter
1/2 cup raisins, sultanas or dried cranberries (optional)

Mix all the dry ingredients together except the fruit. Melt the oil, honey and peanut butter together and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread over a large baking sheet. Stick into a pre-heated oven (325F/170C/150 Fan). Don't wander too far from the oven! Mine tends to cremate things if I leave it unattended! Turn the granola every 10 minutes or so, until roasted nice and golden (certainly not black and smokey). In my oven it's all done in about 25 minutes. Add the dried fruit about 5 minutes from the end of cooking.
Bring it out, let it cool on the try and then store in an airtight container. Voila.

Hopefully it won't be another month again!