Friday, January 7, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Simple and in the moment

I don't mind admitting that things got pretty fraught around here towards the end of last year. It was a bit about the build up of months of baby-interrupted sleep, a bit about a toddler pushing at boundaries, a bit about weather that kept us stuck indoors, a bit about sickness bugs, a bit about those irritating household things that aren't about progress, just staying afloat. Anyway, I got so I really wasn't having a lot of fun in my stay-at-home mum job- and as that job is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week it meant not a lot of fun in general!
The New Year so far has brought better weather, better health, slightly more sleep and a calmer toddler, to say nothing of a better attitude on my part. The title of this post is a bit of a mantra for me at the moment, since I have one of those brains that tends to constantly race ahead and fret over and overcomplicate things.
The picture, meanwhile, is an activity I tried to help me practise what I (inwardly) chant. Some uncooked rice, sprinkled on a baking tray. Simple. The idea was that my boy and I could spend some time practising drawing lines, maybe even letters, together. A shake of the tray and we'd have a new 'page' to draw on. As it turned out, when we were 'in the moment' he didn't feel like drawing, preferring to sprinkle and heap the rice instead. Which was fine really- maybe he'll draw in it another day, maybe not. It turned out it was very peaceful and calming pushing the rice around and sprinkling it onto his palms as 'rain'. And yes, a little bit ended up on the floor, but that's nothing a vacuum cleaner can't fix.
Believe it or not we played with a tray of rice for a serene and happy half an hour and while it's not like he's going to reject all the wonderful, thoughtful toys he was given for Christmas, I'm going to make sure I keep up the effort to keep things simple sometimes.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Soup

Happy New Year! I'm not a fan of the New Year celebrations, but unlike some I really like this time of year. I enjoy the urge to purge and tidy, to return things to normal, fling out unwanted stuff (or rather Ebay, Freecycle or donate in most cases) and generally start as I'd like to go on.
I've decreed that as far as crafts go, the first quarter of this year is going to be all about homemaking, rather than clothes. As a result I have a huge list of projects including curtains, bags, rugs and wall hangings that is likely to last me until about October but will allow me to make use of some exciting Christmas presents which I may show and tell about later in the week.
Inevitably, since no knitter can really cope with empty needles, I have one more clothing project on the go before I kick into an idea for knit/felt cushions. The Pirate Sweater has been fully frogged and restarted, with a new idea for the neckline partly inspired by reading Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'Knitting Without Tears'; a smaller needle size resulting in firmer stitches and a neater looking design on the pocket; larger armholes and a general resolve for it to be even better second time around. There is good chance that my junior fashion critic will still declare his dislike for it and refuse to wear it, but as I'm recording the pattern as I go with a view to publishing it I will not accept it being a wasted effort.
Anyhoo, none of this has anything to do with the soup mentioned in the title. I know I'm not alone in feeling that after the scrumptious excesses of Christmas I really need some simple, nutritious food. This soup has twin inspirations- the Cream of Petit Pois in Nadine Abensur's 'Crank's Fast Food' and a ready made fresh soup we had recently. The latter included spinach and mint as well as peas and was good, but pricey. I was sure I could recreate something like it and did so like this:
1. Finely chop half an onion and a couple of garlic cloves. Soften in a pan with some veg oil for five minutes or so.
2. Add a pint/500ml of veg stock, with a couple of mugfuls (about 300g?) of frozen peas and about three of those little bricks of frozen spinach.
3. Bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Add a glug of cream or a dollop of cream cheese or creme fraiche. Tear up a handful of mint leaves and throw them in too.
5. Take pan off heat and blitz with a handheld blender or liquidise.
6. Season to taste and serve with bread.

It doesn't have too many naughty ingredients- you could even leave out the cream- and actually has lots of good ones. Something about the sweetness and velvety texture the peas give the soup make it really satisfying so you don't feel like you're being too frugal and wholesome, even if you're being healthy.