I have spent most the day slowly taking down the vast quantities of Christmas decorations and I am aware that as I am typing I am sparkling like the fairy from the top of the tree. Although it does look rather pretty, I know it will be hanging around for months and in darkest March I expect my husband to ask during a heated conversation ‘Do you know you have glitter in your hair?’ Such is the ability of this innocuous little frivolity to wheedle its way into clothing, furniture , handbags and every nook and cranny where the hoover does not reach. In our household there are far too many of these nooks and crannies to mention.
This year our little cottage was home to more decorations than usual as the so-called playroom was transformed into a makeshift Christmas Grotto for some children who came round to celebrate my son’s 10th birthday just before Christmas. It was a lovely day, only six children of both genders ranging from six to ten, who were happier sitting playing Minecraft than watching the planned Frozen, even the girls preferring skeletons and zombies to Elsa and the ice. I accepted a long time ago that things never really go as planned in this house so I didn’t make a fuss as they all seemed very content, each shouting instructions whilst eating popcorn (in hindsight more spilling than eating as it is still making it’s way out from under the sofa). The only slight fracas of the day occurred when one little girl insisted on playing the guitar to accompany the pass the parcel game which of course prompted all the other children to want to do the same thing, seasoned guitarists or not.
I must admit the clearing of the decorations is not usually a job I enjoy, the flat feeling I always experience afterwards is rather melancholic and the house takes a little getting used to, stripped back to its usual unadorned normality.
This year I found myself quite enjoying the procedure and instead of just stuffing everything carelessly into black bin liners and a motley assortment of carrier bags, I carefully wound up all the lights, boxed the baubles and folded flat all the stockings that hang over the fireplace. As I hooked the little felt dogs and stars off the tree my mind wandered over the events of the past year, its triumphs and defeats, highlights and lowlights and even little odd days out and lunches with friends, lazy summer afternoons with great food and even greater company. Good times that I had forgotten about until I forced myself to think back to each month, remembering things I had done and who with. Looking back at the year’s photographs, of which there are many, helped greatly, and I spent probably far too long flicking through the files of 2014.
All in all I have had a wonderful year and, trying to break my life-long condition of lack of confidence/worrying and self deprecation, I have resolved to tell myself that the things that haven’t gone so well were in fact out of my control; parents’ ill-health, the seemingly relentless joy of the menopause and the loss of my dog being the top three contenders to be thrown into Room 101.
Sitting firmly at the top of the highlight tree was my small but perfectly formed wedding and honeymoon, followed my garden in summer which brought me so much joy and the small but many achievements made by my young son who battles with people who do not understand him every day of the week and whose determination not to let this bother him puts me to shame.
And then there is this blog. The Eating Tree sprung up out of a little idea after an casual conversation that seemed to snowball extremely rapidly into something very real. Back in October I felt a bit, actually, very overwhelmed, when Michael said he had bought the template and I was now the owner of a blog. Being a total technophobe, without a Facebook or Twitter account and if I am very honest usually disparaging about the whole social network scene, I had to learn extremely quickly how to engage in this world which is very new to me. Texting was about as far as my expertise stretched and even this was sometimes a hit a miss affair, especially if I had to add a photo or something else I deemed super-complicated.
The ‘behind the scenes’ (I’m sure there is a technical word for it somewhere) workings are still very much the domain of my husband but the front of house stuff you see and read is my own. It has been a revelation to find so many like-minded people, not just locally but from all over the world. I have been in contact with some people whom I have never met but would love to invite for dinner even though they live thousands of miles away.
I feel a bit like Doris Day who wants to shout it from the highest hill. My natural but irritating instinct to want everything to be perfect from the off has been thrown a curve-ball due to the amount of money that could easily be sucked into this new venture. I have given up yearnings for a Canon 5D as it is way out of our budget at the moment but the photography element of the blog has very much caught my imagination and is something I will strive to improve. For the time being, my borrowed Sony camera is proving to be a good learning tool and I will be eternally grateful to Mark for his kindness and generosity for the loan. My very lovely husband has already indulged me with some camera lighting which has been a godsend for our very dull north facing kitchen, a newer computer and most importantly has lived with my tears and tantrums while I attempted to fathom the workings of WordPress and the whys and wherefores of Facebook.
The first two months or so have been an eyeopener to say the least. I am finding the writing part very cathartic and am pleased that it acts a bit like a stress valve for me, the same as drawing or painting, and even on a rainy day can in some way take the pain away from not being able to go out in the garden.
The downsides are trying not to let it take over every single minute of the day which would be extremely easy to do if the urge is not kept in check. What with cooking, photographing, planning recipes, checking Facebook and Twitter and tweeting, thinking of something to write and not forgetting the huge piles of washing up that I seem to accumulate, it is easy to let everything else slide. Sleep becomes harder to achieve as recipes and writings, things to do and dreams to achieve spin around my head faster than Victoria Pendleton around a velodrome. Waistlines are getting tighter as exercise has gone out of the window along with with the ironing, the once plump chair at the computer desk now has two large distinct buttock impressions and the cake tin lid has become loose with continuous opening and closing.
Anyway, lessons have been learnt and I am looking forward to continuing upwards on the learning curve. I am starting the New Year afresh with new goals, new friends, a determination to improve and learn more and get more involved with the blogging world.
I can’t thank everyone enough for their support, to those of you who are new, thank you for finding me and taking the time to read my ramblings. To those who keep returning, thank you so much for engaging and hope you are enjoying getting to know me a bit. Your comments are more than welcome and I would love to hear your thoughts on The Eating Tree, any recipes you would like to see or even things you don’t like so much. I will try to be brave.
Although this recipe may look indulgent, we home-smoked this side of salmon so it didn’t work out too expensive and it did make a large dish.
For a cheaper but still delicious alternative use smoked mackerel and use 100g cream cheese and 100g creme fraiche. The rest of the ingredients will remain the same.
- 170g Smoked Salmon
- 150g Cream Cheese
- 50g Double Cream
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1Tbs Dill
- 1 Tbs Horseradish
- Put everything into a food processor and whizz to the desired consistency.
- You shouldn't need to season so do not add salt.
- Delicious with capers.