Spring is in the air! The Joys of Blossom… and Living in the Moment!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend! ūüôā

On Saturday we had glorious weather in Bath, so I took the opportunity to get out into the garden and do some tidying up.¬†¬†It was so warm that we even managed to eat our lunch outside ūüôā

It¬†really does feel like Spring has arrived in Bath.¬† The crocuses and primroses are popping up everywhere in our¬†little garden…

along with the daffodils and cute little narcissus ūüôā


One of my favourite things about Springtime is blossom.  Trees look so severe in Wintertime without their leaves, but come Springtime, their bare branches are covered in the most delicately coloured, beautiful flowers that are an absolute joy to see.

One of my favourite types of blossom is found on the japonica tree. 

This tree is situated outside Lil’ L’s bedroom, and¬†it’s such a nice¬†sight to be greeted with as¬† I open his curtains first¬†thing¬†in the morning.

To reach school, we have to walk up a very steep hill.¬† Even though I consider¬†myself to be¬†pretty fit, I’m totally out of breath as¬†I reach the top!¬† But what I focus on as I’m climbing (and huffing and puffing!)¬†is the cherry tree that marks the end of the hill.¬† This tree is absolutely glorious at the moment…¬†

with¬†the most beautiful blossom ūüôā

And check out how blue the sky was on the school run today!

¬†In last week’s Wednesday Workshop (a little primary school Buddhist class that I teach each Wednesday) we read the story of the Four Princesses and the Kingshuk Tree (a beautiful story!) and I used the example of blossom to teach the children about impermanence¬†and the importance of living in the moment.¬† Most of us are so busy in our lives, with our heads filled with a million and one thoughts and plans, that we risk losing sight of all the beauty that surrounds us in our natural environment.¬† When we do live in the moment, everything becomes brighter, clearer, more beautiful.

Time to enjoy the blossom… it’ll be gone before we know it!

Has Spring arrived where you live?¬† What’s your favourite thing about this season?


Big Budget Challenge – Weeks III & IV

As it was¬†the half term school holidays last week, which began¬†with a¬†mini break to Sherwood Forest followed by¬†Lil’ L’s 8th birthday,¬†I¬†didn’t get round to posting¬†an update for Laura’s¬†Big Budget Challenge.¬† Many apologies Laura!¬†¬†To make up for this, I’ll give a¬†rundown of my ‘money saves’ over the past two weeks vis-a-vis my 5 budget¬†rules.¬†

1. Avoid waste. I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to avoid throwing away any food over the past two weeks ūüôā¬†¬†There was a close call with a bag of spinach that was starting to look sorry for itself, but Laura’s post on Monday inspired me to make a spinach, butternut squash and chickpea curry.¬†¬†I even roasted the squash seeds (for the first time ever) and we had them with the hemp burger and¬†roasted squash dinner on Monday.¬† No seeds will ever get thrown away again… they’re so nice lightly roasted! ūüôā

2. Shop around for cheapest deals.¬†I’m planning to do another big online grocery shop tomorrow¬†and I’ll definitely be using www.mysupermarket.co.uk¬†again.¬† It saved me quite a few pounds on¬†my last¬†big grocery¬†shop¬†and¬†I’m intrigued to see what I can save¬†this¬†time round ūüôā

3. Make use of home grown foods.¬†¬†We’ve been eating lots of home-grown apples (still not sick of them ūüėČ ).¬† We’ve also had some very generous donations of home-grown produce from friends and family, including these amazing¬†courgettes/zucchinis.

As well as using the zucchini in lots of savoury dishes (roasted veg & pasta; lasagna; fajitas), I made some wicked date and zucchini brownies last week, which I pictured in yesterday’s post.¬† (I’ll be writing up the recipe and posting it¬†very soon).

All the donated produce has been used up now, so I’ve turned my attention to¬†some¬†rather unusual¬†home-grown produce… dandelion leaves and nettles.¬† I didn’t¬†intentionally grow these, but as they’re growing so beautifully in my garden, it’ll be fun to see whether I can turn them into¬†something¬†tasty ūüėČ

4. Go foraging! Whilst cycling round Sherwood Forest last week, I couldn’t resist a quick¬†pause to collect¬†sweet chestnuts.

The cases are so prickly!  I used my feet to squeeze the nuts out of the shells, while M adopted a more hands-on approach.

I didn’t have a bag with me, so I crammed as many as I could into the back pocket of my cycling jacket.

You won’t believe how many I actually managed to cram into that pocket!

I absolutely adore roasted chestnuts!¬† They really remind me of¬†childhood Christmas Eves when my Dad would roast chestnuts, sprinkle them with salt and tip them on a newspaper.¬† We’d¬†then sit on the¬†living room floor and tuck in!

Today, I decided to use some of the nuts to make a sweet chestnut casserole with herby dumplings.

The dumplings were flavoured with fresh¬†rosemary from the garden.¬† This is¬†one of the few¬†edible plants that the slugs and snails actually leave alone!¬† It’s a really easy herb to grow and seems to look after itself.¬† Our plant has been here the whole time we’ve lived in Bath (11 years now) and it hasn’t need any attention at all. (That’s SO my sort of plant ūüėČ )

5. Make use of vouchers and deals. We used our Tesco vouchers again on Lil’ L’s birthday,¬†saving us ¬£21 on the entry fee into a sea aquarium.¬† I’m glad we didn’t pay¬†real money for this trip as the aquarium was awful (in my opinion).¬† The image of the snake-headed turtle pounding up and down its tiny tank is still haunting me ūüôĀ

So that’s my big budget challenge update for weeks III and IV!¬†¬†Have you had any great money saves in the last month?¬† If so, I’d love to hear them!¬†

The Garden

Our garden looks its best in June.¬†¬†The garden is¬†filled with the smell of roses at the moment; you can¬†even smell them as you walk up the garden path ūüôā¬† As the flowers are not going to last much longer, I thought I’d take a few photos before they disappear.

The white rose bush has literally got hundreds of flowers on it!  It looks and smells incredible!

I’m not very good with the names of flowers, but I think this is a pink geranium.

Mum gave me the Sweet William.¬† I¬† believe it’s from our old house in Essex.¬†

These are the flowers growing in the shady spot under the magnolia tree.¬† I think the plant in the foreground is called ‘crown vetch¬†‘ (I’ll take more pictures when it comes out in flower).¬† Not sure what the yellow or lilac flowers are called!

I’m not sure what the plant below is, but the bees absolutely love it!¬†

The dinner we had last night was¬†one of our all time favourites –¬†Veggie Paella.¬† Here’s the photo I took:

Veggie Paella

It’s super easy to make and only uses one pan, so very little washing up.¬†¬†We like those sort of dinners best!¬† The recipe can be found here.