Thursday, September 4, 2014
I've been absent from here for almost two weeks now. To be honest I am pretty much taken up with caring, and working for a Yes victory in the Referendum on Scottish Independence. Polling day is18th September, and the vote is going to be very close. It's exciting, nerve racking stuff, but I am so enjoying it. To see my country wholly engaged in the debate in such a positive way is truly inspiring.
John is still going through his chemotherapy - 2 cycles to go. Its leaving him really quite washed out, but we are focussing on the healing aspects of the treatment. We have been hugely buoyed by your thoughts and prayers.
I am not sure if I will be popping back here before the big day, if not - see you on the other side!
Friday, August 22, 2014
Sunday, August 17, 2014
The heather is blooming now, turning the hillsides into a haze of purple. It's a lovely sight, but a sure sign that Autumn is on the horizon.
The school holidays are over again, although we enjoyed the very last evening on our favourite beach.
We also managed to pick some of the brambles growing down by the shore, before the birds finished them off - so we have some tiny jars of blackberry jelly!
We've been eating fresh salad from the polytunnel every day...
I've been developing a herb plot near the house, and I am pleased with how it is turning out. The hens also like to hang out under the trees here, so some protection is needed from foraging chooks.
In other news - we have sold the cattle. It was a hard decision, as they have been such a well-loved part of our lives here. But looking ahead, realistically, it is unlikely John will be able to get back to active crofting, and looking after them involves a lot of work - particularly in the Winter. With a heavy heart, I put them up for sale, and within the week a deal was done. Happily, they are going to be part of a new Dexter herd in another part of Scotland, where the grass is lush and the Winters are kinder.
So - our focus is on the cancer treatment - the next cycle of chemotherapy is in a few days time. We don't know what the eventual outcome will be, and whether livestock will feature again in our lives, but - its not a bad place to be while we wait... xx
Sunday, August 3, 2014
It's a bit of an uphill struggle right now, to be honest. John has started his chemotherapy, and while the nursing staff in the unit are just wonderful, the treatment itself is harsh - a strange paradox of killing and healing. The side effects are beginning to kick in and are pretty unpleasant for him. We'll get there, and of course we are trying to focus on the healing element ...
Thanks again for all you wishes and prayers for us. It seems such an inadequate phrase, but please know it comes from the heart. xx
Friday, July 25, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Quick post to share my knitting and reading habits of late. I finished the Alpinia - yay! I am really pleased with it too - a very sweet cardigan indeed. Today I crocheted a wee bag to hold my iPhone when I am walking the dog in this warm weather. For some reason, most of my summer clothes don't have pockets, and I am using the phone to take all my pictures just now, so I wanted a cross-shoulder bag so I can be hands-free. I just made up a rough pattern, which you can see on my Ravelry page. I tested it out tonight and it did the job perfectly.
My next project will be a hat for John, using this lovely blue Rowan merino silk. He starts his chemotherapy next week... better cast on soon.
I am re-reading Bone by Marion Woodman. It is a diary of her own cancer journey and it is a beautifully written reflection, quotes from poetry and literature - lots of Jungian imagery, which I love too. I read this many years ago, on holiday in Crete, and I was very taken with it. This time, of course, I have a different perspective, and I am getting so much nourishment from it.
I am joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along - do drop by and see what everyone else is up to. xx
Monday, July 21, 2014
Every morning now, I walk the dog. It is another of the many tasks that have fallen to me these days. I am only beginning to realise just how much John did, as our life begins to unfold into it's new shape. Anyway, I digress - and I am not really complaining, because an early morning walk in Summer is indeed a glorious way to start the day. Just being out there in nature is so - sensual.
As I walk, I see colours all around, and with each step, clouds of little white moths and red admiral butterflies burst up from the grass. I see a yacht moored in the bay, and as I climb up the steep path, a rabbit is sitting perfectly still just on the horizon. The tide is low and I smell the tang of the exposed seaweed as it begins to dry in the already warm sun. There is a slight breeze though, and it blows cool on my arms, sunburned from the previous day. I pass through the stone circle, and stop to touch one - feeling it's ancient worn surface and wondering... A warbler scolds me as I walk on - following me from a distance, chattering away as it flits along the fence posts. I hear gulls wheeling over the sea-loch, and the village cockerels trying to out-crow one another. I head home for breakfast - its going to be another lovely day. x
Friday, July 18, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Welcome to my kitchen on this bright morning. Sit down and have a cup of tea - smoked salmon and crowdie (cream cheese) on the menu today. I've been breakfasting alone lately. Well, its the summer holidays, so boys sometimes like a long lie, and morning isn't the best time of day for John at the moment, so he tends to get up a bit later too. I'm always too hungry to wait for them, so have come to relish these few moments of calm before the busy-ness of the day starts.
I've been making up these concoctions too - which we jokingly refer to it as the "chemo-therapy". Its a blend of coconut oil, fermented cod liver oil, matcha powder, turmeric, kelp and shitake powder, surprisingly pleasant and full of good cancer-fighting stuff. I have absolutely no idea if it will have any effect, but it feels like a positive thing to do, while we wait for the actual treatment to start.
But, still - there is some elderflower liqueur on the go. No-one really likes the cordial in this house, and I had great success with the fennel liqueur I made last year, so I thought I would give this a go too. I'll let you know around New Year :)
(Put 20 heads elderflower and zest of an unwaxed lemon in a litre kilner jar and fill with vodka. Make sure the flowers are submerged. Seal jar and store in a cool dark place for 3 months. Strain out elderflowers and return liquor to the cleaned jar. Add 300 grams caster sugar and stir well. Re-seal and return jar to storage place for another 2 months, give it a shake every now and then to help dissolve the sugar. The same recipe can be used forthe fennel liquer - except use a couple of handfuls of fennel instead of elderflowers.)
We planted a wild cherry tree a couple of years ago, but not much seems to be happening with it yet, so it's always nice to see cherries at the crofter's market. This batch disappeared quite quickly...
But the main ingredient just now is garlic. I have a great crop this year and I am just picking it and using it fresh, rather than dried. To be honest I lost a lot of my garlic harvest last year because I didn't have a cool dry place to store it - this year it can stay in the ground until I need it.
Although that is not going to be for long, as it is so sweet and mild that I am using lots of it in every savoury dish that I make. Two bulbs went into this kale and bacon tortilla, which was extremely delicious indeed.
Cloves from 2 bulbs fresh garlic, some pancetta, gently fried together - add a couple of good handfuls of chopped kale and allow to wilt into the garlic/bacon mix. Whisk 8 eggs with a splash of cream, add a good handful of a strong cheese, salt and pepper and add this to the pan. cook until still soft on top then add another handful of cheese - finish cooking under the grill.
Hungry boys love it.
Still picking the garlic scapes too. I use them in many dishes - salads, stuffed into chicken or fish, roasted in olive oil like asparagus spears, in soup... the possibilities are endless. But at some point, pesto has to be made. I think it is the law...
I cup basil, 1 cup scapes, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup olive oil. Whizz together until nicely pulverised. Add more Parmesan or oil to get consistency you prefer, and season to taste. And it does.. taste.. delicious.
I made a batch today and it fair pepped up a summer salad soup (just chicken stock with leeks, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and some leftover salad leaves from yesterday)
For dinner, I covered some salmon fillets with a good layer before baking them, in a hot oven for 15 minutes. What a fantastic meal. I'll need to make another couple of batches before the scape season is over once more.
And then James discovered, after many years of never eating them, that he actually like mushrooms! In fact - he loves them! It was like Green Eggs and Ham... they are so good - so good you see!
Hope you are enjoying good appetites this season xxx
Sunday, July 13, 2014
We've been enjoying the fine Summer weather lately, and our days have been full and long, spent mainly on the beach. There has been swimming, digging to Australia, and new friends made - just for the day. There has been some loafing around, daydreaming, lots of cooling drinks, and then back to the beach. I hope you are enjoying the season wherever you are. xxx