Hello my lovelies! Happy New Year! 2016 has been full of ups and downs for me. A lot of stress. A lot of great experiences. A lot of change. It ended well and that’s what counts.
Time to focus on a new year and better things. Make resolutions that we can keep. I had a great week staying with my folks and soaking up the countryside over Christmas. So much green. So much sky. I was glad to get back in my own kitchen. It’s amazing how you get used to it and how frustrating someone else’s can seem. My plants were well tended while I was away. My herbs are happy and green and I’m a little bit worried that we will wake up pinned to the bed by tomato plants that have filled the entire house. I was blessed this year with my favourite type of Christmas gift – USEFUL THINGS. I have used almost every gift I have received already. The sign of a great gift. This coming week I will share a round-up of your favourite recipes in 2016 and some of my favourite things from the year.
As I said last week, I had a very full schedule while at my parents’ place. With the napping and the baking and the reading and the shopping and so forth. We made some gingerbread cookies. We attempted to ice the cookies. They became gradually less nightmarish as we went on. Remind me to add “practice cookie icing” to my resolutions.
Christmas day is a very relaxed affair for our family. There is a fruit/croissant/bacon/egg/sparkling wine situation for breakfast. Then there are presents. This is followed by some variety of low-impact sporting endeavour. These are always given the Armstrong family touch. And I quote “It’s funner when you play it weird”. This year we played petanque, cross-country style. You start on the lawn and after each round the shooting circle is moved to where the jack was in the last round. Play it where it lies, no exceptions.
There is napping, followed by roast lamb and whatever I happen to make for dessert. Natch. This year it was Passionfruit + Lime Tart with Coconut + Almond Crust.
Coming soon to a blog near you. THIS ONE. Cough.
I arrived home in the evening and the very next day I was baking. Experimenting with some of the blueberries that I brought home. My parents’ house is like a free grocery store. These jammy little tartlets are about 85% there.
I’m very proud of my herb babies! I have just added three more to their ranks. Chives, Basil and Lemon Balm will bring my herb army to nine. I thought I had killed the Tarragon when I repotted it. Clearly not.
The tomatoes are FOUR FEET HIGH. I thought they would be small, shrublike. Not so. I don’t think they’re sentient. Yet.
I want to start a gift-related movement. If you are going to buy a gift then it should be useful or edible. A thing that adds to a persons life. Books. Tools. Things that make the day-to-day better. Things that grow. If you are considering something that fits the retail description of ‘giftware’ then back away. My favourite gifts this year; potting mix (just add plants to turn sunshine into food and oxygen), mini-tongs (pickles will no longer elude me), an apple corer (pie should always be easy), my giant keep-cup (tea by the pint) and a crepe pan. A crepe pan seems like a single use item but it’s the perfect weight and size for tortillas, toasting seeds and nuts, crepes and pancakes and swinging at intruders. Win-win.
‘Tis the season to set unrealistic expectations. I am dialling it back this year. So should you. No one is going to become a totally different person. You shouldn’t want to. Let’s turn “New Year, New You” into “New Year, Slightly Better You”. Choose a few areas you want to improve. Then set some achievable goals. Fitness, Social Interaction, Mental Health, Creation, Knowledge. Add some metres to your daily run/walk every week/month. One day a week smile at every person that makes eye contact with you. Meditate for 10 minutes a day. Make/bake/sew/craft/write a thing. Read a book a month about something you don’t know anything about. Incremental changes are satisfying and they add up. We will stumble. But we will get up again.
Love yourself. Be nice to others. Make food. Share it. Go outside. Breathe.
You got this.