Sunday, 10 November 2019

Planting positivity

More pots and trays on another window sill
Taken by J

Pots in a tray in a window sill lurking behind Bob the rubber plant.
Taken by J.

I may be having a blip and not be able to get outside or indeed downstairs at the moment but that doesn't stop the garden and allotment being a real source of strength and positivity and I'm so very grateful for it. Today I've peeked out of the window and watched the blackbird eating the cotoneaster berries from the hedge, looked down on the beds that J managed to do a bit of work on yesterday and spotted the scabious still in bloom and the strawberry and flowering currant leaves taking on their Autumn tints of red and yellow. He's also been busy sowing broad beans and onions in modules in the hope that the mice and voles might leave them alone if they are rooted when we put them in ground. Tonight we ordered our seed potatoes for next year's harvest courtesy of the Transition Loughborough Potato Day online system and J has spent some time pricking out and potting on the cuttings and biennial sowings I made at the end of the summer so we can look forward to pansies, violas, sweet rocket, verbena and penstemons next year - mind you we're already running out of window ledges!

Next stop part 2 of the brilliant Northern Lights adaptation. Happy Sunday all.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Slow days

Wet night but shaping up to be a dry day I think, if a little grey and November-ish.

Things are improving slowly here as I take a break from the chemo and give my body chance to recover. That treatment is now set aside and once my skin (nasty reaction) and strength returns we'll be trying a different one. In the meantime it's patience from me (a struggle at times) and TLC from J ( who seems to have a never-ending supply of it). There's been lots of practical support from the local care teams and the regular checking in from friends and family too. Brain energy seems to be returning as well so that means I can start catching up on all the blogs, articles and things I have bookmarked over the last week or so too. As I'm not doing much other than recuperate my own blog-posts might be a bit sparse but we'll see.

We ordered a stair-lift yesterday which will be installed next week - a big step but one we always knew would come and it will mean that when muscles are weak and energy levels low I can still use the whole house and J can actually leave it - whereas at the moment I'm back to being largely upstairs as that's where the bathroom is (not TMI I hope!!) and he's on cooking, waiting, door answering and everything else duties.

So that's where we are at the moment.
Bye for now.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Home at last

Tired but doing ok. Chill out evening ahead. Normal service will resume anon.
Bye for now

Friday, 1 November 2019

A little blip.

 Hopefully not for long but Wednesday's quick trip for a blood test gas turned into a stay in hospital due to a rather low bloid count and the starts of an infection. Being treated and hopefully be home soon. We've had worse!
Back soon

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Visiting with the houseplants

Had a wander around the house on Sunday realising that over the years, without really intending to, I've become a houseplant keeper. For years and years I said I didn't really do houseplants - I always said I couldn't keep them alive - but if that's the case then where have all these appeared from?

In the Living Room

This purple orchid is on it's fourth re-flowering in the year or so since I was given it by a friend, I'm holding out hope it's white-flowered neighbour might try again soon

The weeping fig came in the same pack as Bob about 25 years ago, and despite years of neglect now thrives on the windowsill.

This peace lily was part of another gift a couple of years ago and seems to just keep growing - mind you it has only flowered once.

In the kitchen

A bit of a mixture on the kitchen table at the moment - a baby Bob and a selection of succulents waiting for their forever homes, a scented geranium ready to be overwintered, our last Aloe Vera and a pot of sage cuttings waiting to be potted up. The dark red chrysanthemum was given to as a gift last Christmas and turned out to be four little plants in one pot - we split them and they've spent the summer outside. I brought this one in at the weekend to see what would happen and look how beautiful it is.
And then there's the white flowered orchid that was given to us a few years ago by J's cousins and the little seemingly ever-lasting cyclamen that was given to me the first Christmas I came to Stratford by a new colleague and has flowered every winter since, it's a gorgeous scarlet colour and brightens the darkest days beautifully. 

And then there's upstairs residents...

You've met Bob before and he certainly seems to have recovered from the pruning and propagating at the beginning of the year. All bar the last one of those babies has been re-homed.

And after a year in their new homes the succulents are looking great and it's their babies we'll be re-homing next. 

And dotted on windowsills all round the house....

there's the super-hot skinny chillis that have come in for the winter and the violas that are getting ready to move out and the lupin, sweet rocket, geraniums, verbena, penstemons and pinks that will all need to be potted on and over-wintered indoors until the Spring now.

And it seems that not only do we have a house full of plant-shaped memories and family and friends and kindnesses but lots of potential kindnesses to return.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Stuffing Stew.

Yesterday morning the house inadvertantly smelled like Christmas as I decided my one mission for the day was to use up some of the store cupboard stuff to make a soupy stew for the quick meals for the next few weeks whilst J went to the Allotment Society AGM.

So pearl barley from the store cupboard has joined leeks and parsnips from the freezer, and lots of sage and thyme to make a soupy stew that I think will work on it's own or with a veggie sausage or similar as a more substantial meal.

Just be aware that my post-chemo taste-buds seem to only be responding to super-herby flavours at the moment that you might need a bit less flavouring than me if you play with this one but trust me it makes the house smell glorious.

Leek, Parsnip and Barley stew

  • c. 1 tablespoon oil
  • c. 250g leeks
  • c. 250g part-boiled parsnips
  • c, 100g pearl barley
  • 3 tablespoons dried sage
  • 2 tablespoons stock powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • black pepper to taste
  • c. 2 litres of boiling water

In large saucepan - makes at least 5 portions

  • Put oil parsnips and leeks and lightly fry until the veg softens and takes on a little bit of colour.
  • Add herbs, stock and enough water to cover to about 2 cms below the pan rim, bring to the boil.
  • Add the barley and simmer for c. 30mins. The barley will absorb the water so you need to keep a bit of an eye on it to make sure it doesn't catch. Top the pan back up with boiling stock to same level as previous and simmer until barley soft.
  • The final result is a thick brothy type soup that looks a bit beige but tastes great. I might add some peas or something else with a bit of colour to it when I warm up the portions.

All ready for freezing

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Getting things done

Yesterday, despite the soggy start to the day, we had an excursion before our trip to the hospital for chemo. We had been building up a list of bits and pieces we wanted to pick up in town and I needed a non-medical trip out even if it did mean starting at B&Q. The main purpose was to have a peek at the new Hobbycraft that has opened this week .so we got  dropped off at the shopping centre late morning and then J wheeled me round working our way through our list of things until we got to Hobbycraft itself- the shopping centre is a nice level outdoor one and is just on the edges of the town close to the hospital so once we were done we popped into the Marks food place on site and picked up a picnic lunch. Now a picnic in a hospital waiting room isn't everyone's idea of a good time but it made sense for us not to go home and come back out again and the Chemo suite at the hospital is lovely and modern with comfy chairs and free wi-fi and all very relaxed so no-one minded that we turned up an hour or so early (they were momentarily puzzled but they didn't mind!) and it gave me a chance to rest before the treatment began. We picked up some bits for me and bits to put aside for friend's children and family here and overseas ready for the C-word as well as giving me a chance to see what sort of paints and the like the shop stocks before the chaos that today's grand opening would not doubt have produced.
Chemo went ok and whilst tired last night the evening passed smoothly and I even went back to sleep for an extra hour or so after my usual early wake up so a gentler start to today.

When I eventually got up I put a double batch of dough on for lunchtime pizza and a stock of flat-breads for the freezer - reheating them frozen has worked well this week, the breads had a lot of flavour and it's definitely something I will be doing regularly from now on. When J made the lunchtime pizza he also made the flat-breads themselves so a good bit of team-work.

Then on to the next job on the "it's really bugging me and I must sort it list". After several weeks of working our way through the freezer stocks of veggies, sauces and bought in stuff that we'd accumulated earlier in the year I shuffled the remaining pots, packets and boxes around making sure that everything that needs using up in the next month is in the drawers that I can easily get to and revised the lists that tell me what we have and which freezer it's in. The food shop arrived this afternoon so now we're fully stocked for my brother's visit next week and the rest of November and should only need  to pick up the odd bit of fresh fruit and mushroomy type foodstuffs.

Really happy to have got the chores done but starting to flag a bit as the afternoon goes on so methinks more seed crackers and seedling potting on are going to have to wait. My feet are now firmly up watching an interesting Dr. Janina Ramirez documentary on Julian of Norwich on i-player whilst J plants the autumn onion sets into modules in the kitchen and yes, it's still raining...

verbena cuttings need pricking out but will just have to wait...