This year, the Winter Solstice happened to fall on a Saturday, so we took the opportunity to head to one of our favourite landmarks – Glastonbury Tor – to watch the sun set. It was a close call as the sun was already on its way down as we drove into the town.
With no time to spare, we headed straight up to the Tor…
And we made it just in the nick of time!
For days, we’d been experiencing torrential rains and gail force winds here in the South West, and it had rained for most of Saturday too. However, just as the sun was setting on the Winter Solstice, the rain stopped, the clouds disappeared and we experienced the most beautiful sun set. It truly was a magical moment ♥
As soon as the sun was down, the clouds came over and the heavy rain returned!!
We carefully made our way down from the Tor, trying not to get blown over in the gail force winds! Back in the town, we stopped for a warming drink and a quick browse in the The Speaking Tree before it closed. All three of us came away with a beautiful book…. mind you, it’s very hard to come away empty handed from that shop! As we made our way back to the car, we stopped to admire all the amazing window displays.
I loved that little hedgehog!
Well, it’s Christmas Eve now and I still have a few more things to finish off, including Christmas cards and decorating the Christmas Cake, but I’m nearly there! M and Lil’ L have the next two weeks off, and I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with them. This will be my last blog post for a while, as I’m going to ‘unplug’ for the holidays to give the family my full attention 😉
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ♥
I look forward to catching up with you in 2014 xx
I’ve finally made my way back into blogging world! Firstly, I want to say a bit ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR!’ to you all. I hope 2012 brings you everything you wish for 🙂
Secondly, apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple of weeks. I took a break away from the computer so that I could give the family my full attention. The school holidays were spent playing with new toys and games, including the awesome Harry Potter Cluedo…
and the superb Labyrinth 🙂
As well as some old favourites, like Rich Uncle 🙂
Now he’s 8, Lil’ L’s has been able to play all these board games as a contestant in his own right, and he’s loved it! It’s been a great way to spend quality time as a family 🙂
We’ve also been on some awesome walks, including a hike up to the Glastonbury Tor on New Year’s Eve.
As we were climbing up to the Tor, we were greeted with a spectacular sun set!
Evenings have been spent catching up on all the films that we’ve missed this year. M and I also watched several Victorian films including The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Young Victoria and adaptations of Dicken’s Great Expectations and David Copperfield. The Victorian times weren’t that long ago, yet life was so different then. It’s easy to forget just how easy we have it these days. Since watching these films, I haven’t complained once about having to do the odd hour of housework 😉
On New Year’s Day, we took a trip to the cinema to watch Hugo in 3D. This film was beautiful, mesmerizing, moving. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend going to the cinema and seeing it in 3D. IMO, it’s one of those films that really needs to be seen on the big screen to get the full effect.
Well, no post of mine would be complete without the mention of food 😉 We ate really well over the festive period, although we probably ate a bit too much. I’m not worried though as I know that that any extra weight I put on will come off over the next few weeks, now I’m back into moderate eating mode rather than over indulgence. I reckon I just need to wear those stretchy leggings for one more week, then I’ll be back in the jeans 😉
Some of our favourite eats in the past few weeks have been the more ‘natural’ foods. We’ve loved eating hot roasted chestnuts, walnuts eaten straight from their shells, and ruby red grapefruits. I don’t think I’ve eaten a grapefruit since last Christmas and I’d forgotten just how much I love them!
We’ve also enjoyed plenty of Christmas pudding drizzled with fresh soya milk. I don’t bother to make my own Christmas pudding as I love Tesco’s cheap range pudding (it only costs about £3 and is vegan).
Remember the snowball Christmas cake? Well, it looked like this inside.
It was delicious… and it’s all gone!
We did try a few shop bought ‘processed’ foods, but we didn’t like most of them (probably because we’re not used to eating them). I’m really glad that I made a nut roast for Christmas dinner, as the ‘Turkey-style’ veggie roast that I bought was way too salty and chewy for me. We also tried some ‘chicken style’ nuggets, but they were really bland. The one ready-made food that we really did love though was Linda McCartney’s sausage rolls. Very tasty indeed! I’ll definitely be buying them again next Christmas.
And finally, I’ve got a recipe to share…. Wild Mushroom Risotto
This is what I made on arrival at my mum’s house on Christmas Eve. It was super easy to make and didn’t take too long. Mum had some butternut squash to use up, so we roasted it in large chunks and served it as a side dish. It turned out to be a perfect accompaniment for the risotto. It really was delicious. Pefect for special occasions or dinner parties.
Instead of going out last Friday night for a meal (the credit cards needs a well earned rest 😉 ), I decided to make risotto again as a treat and, this time round, I actually wrote down the ingredients and method.
Ingredients 30g / 1 cup dried wild mushrooms
300ml / 1/2 pint boiling water
1 pint vegetable stock (I use Marigold Organic Swiss Vegetable Bouillon)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely sliced (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
250g / 3 cups chestnut mushrooms, sliced
300g / 10 1/2 oz / 1 1/2 cups Arborio risotto rice
150ml / 1/2 pint dry white wine (optional)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
nutritional yeast flakes (optional) (we love the Marigold Engevita savoury yeast condiment with added B12)
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl, pour over the boiling water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon. Place the liquid in a small saucepan along with the vegetable stock and gently heat.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes or so, until it starts to soften. Stir in the garlic, lemon zest, thyme, chestnut mushrooms and wild mushrooms, and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are glossy.
Add the wine (if using) and boil rapidly until it has been absorbed. Add the hot stock, one ladleful at a time. Keep the risotto simmering and stir frequently. Allow each ladleful of stock to be absorbed before adding another. Continue until the rice is cooked, but still al dente. This should take about 20-25 minutes. It may not be necessary to add all the stock.
When the rice is cooked, sprinkle in the parsley and pine nuts. Season to taste. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of yeast flakes, if desired (to add a nutritional cheesy flavoured topping).
Suggested accompaniments: crusty garlic bread, side dish of roasted butternut squash.
Since the beginning of 2012, I’ve been cooking with renewed enthusiasm, and my favourite meals have been those that you can whip up in no time at all and, preferably, use one pan. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you over the coming weeks 🙂
Did you play any fun games or see any good movies over the holidays?
This weekend I went to Glastonbury Festival for the first time in my life. It was an amazing experience and I’m glad that I got to see the craziness that is Glasto.
The place is so vast it’s mind blowing!
It was very, very muddy. I tried to not be too much of a princess about it. I didn’t complain (much) and just concentrated on plodding on and not falling over. Lil’ L managed to fall over 3 times in the first half hour! It’s hard work wading through mud for hours, but at least it gives your legs a good workout. 😉
My favourite area of the festival was ‘The Unfairground’. This zone invites you to the dark side of the world where plane wrecks, mutants and freaks all groove to Bez’s Acid House. I fitted in well there 😉
The plane wreck below was actually a tequila bar! You had to pick your way through the debris, then prop up the bar in the company of a blood drenched aviator. Lovely!
Lil’ L was a bit in awe and a bit freaked out by The Unfairground!
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Shangri-La – the “futuristic and dystopian wonderland”… as it didn’t open until 11pm 🙁
Block9 was another late-night wonderland that we missed, but we did manage to see the incredible ‘London Underground’ – a 50ft tower block with a life-size, Tube train-cum-night club. I would have loved to have seen it at night time when it was all ablaze.
I also loved the Greenpeace field. Greenpeace is celebrating its 40th anniversary and it was great to join in the birthday celebrations with them. There was cake, party games.. the whole sherbang!
The fish-cum-cafe below was actually made of old CDs!
There were some great installations by Greenpeace.
There were tons of vegetarian and vegan cafes and eateries at the festival. We sampled the veggie burgers, falafel pittas and paella. It was all delish. My favourite refreshment had to be the fruit smoothie which was blended using pedal power to generate the electricity for the blender! Very cool and fun to watch!
Blending smoothies through pedal power!
All in all, it was a great experience… and I didn’t get THAT muddy!!!