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Sunday, 4 April 2021

Lemon Zest Scones

 Happy Easter, friends!  I hope you are having a lovely long weekend.  We have been plunged into another lockdown after a scant few weeks of freedom but easing into it with Easter long weekend makes the medicine go down a tiny bit more easily.  I have been debating what to do with the lemon slices preserved in syrup that I wrote about here and thought that the aromatic and zingy zest would be wonderful in scones.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 heavy cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 handful of lemon zest, enough to flavour the dough and for a pinch on top of each scone

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat
3) Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter, cutting the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork.
4) Add in the heavy cream, egg and vanilla extract.  Add in the lemon zest, reserving enough of the zest to allow for a pinch of zest on top of each scone.
5) Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work it into a ball, then flatten the ball into a 7" circle.  Cut the dough into 8 equal sized wedges and place them on the silicone baking sheet.
5) Place a pinch of zest on the top of each wedge.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and the scones are cooked through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

I love my scones with marmalade as the lemon zest marries well with the citrus flavours of marmalade.  Happy Easter baking!


Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Diving into Slow Living with Lemons in Sugar Syrup

 Hello Friends!  We are all spending more time than ever in our kitchens and homes in general.  It took a while for me to fully embrace my home and this new state of being as there was so much fear and uncertainty in the early days.  But now I have come to accept it as a blessing in disguise.  I am so much more intentional with my actions these days and have a newfound appreciation for food and where it comes from. I have been trying to pick up new skills such as preserving food which I believe to be an integral part of the slow food and slow living movement.   I have always been scared of preserving what with having to faff about with a giant pot of boiling water and countless jars to sterilize.  As well, this was a skill that I had never been taught or exposed to when I was growing up.  But one way to get around this fear is is to do small batches, just one or two jars at a time.  I had been gifted a bag of lemons so this was the perfect opportunity to try preserving lemons in sweet syrup.

Just focusing on one jar makes it less intimidating for a newbie like me. In this case, I used a 500 ml jar and sterilized it first with boiling water.

I managed to get 3 sliced lemons in there.  I made the sugar syrup by dissolving a half cup of sugar into 300 mls of boiling water.  I then poured the hot syrup over the lemons leaving 1 cm of headspace.  I think I need some sort of weight to keep the slices from floating upwards.  The syrup is supposed to completely cover the slices but without something to weigh them down, this wasn't possible.  Any expert jam makers, pickle makers or preservers of food out there, please let me know if there is such a thing as a weight or stone that doesn't react with the food, available or if you have any ideas for what I could use to weigh down the slices.

Here is my very first jar of lemons in syrup!  The brightness of the lemons had infused the syrup after just a couple of days.  It really is like sunshine in a jar.  There isn't any of the bitterness found in commercially prepared products.  The lemon slices are lovely in a cup of tea or as a garnish on a sweet dessert.  The syrup and slices stirred into some sparkling water make a deliciously refreshing drink.  I keep the jar in the refrigerator and seeing it there gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure and satisfaction.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

February 2021 Monthly Favourites Apple Pen and Lamy Fountain Pen

 Hello Friends! Welcome to another Monthly Favourites.  Let's jump right in.  I had been wanting an Apple Pen for a while so when I saw a sale on Amazon, it didn't take long for me to place it in my shopping basket.

My city is still in lockdown and we are still living under a Stay at Home order.  We spend so much time indoors now, online.  I figured having the Pen would increase the functionality of my tablet and possibly decrease the amount of sticky fingerprints accumulating on the screen. I was worried about the authenticity of the Pen as I was ordering it off Amazon and not through the Apple store but, as far as I can tell, it is the real thing. 
At the same time, I also ordered this amazing fountain pen.

I love the fact that it is transparent and you can see the ink level in the cartridge.  I grew up using a fountain pen in school.  However, using this Lamy fountain pen is light years away from the dodgy one that I was forced to use by my old school.  I remember fiddling with the school mandated fountain pen for hours trying to get the scratchy nib to work.  It was such a relief to use a ballpoint when I left that school.  It is funny how circular life is.  Being at home all day, every day, has brought to the forefront issues that I had never really had time to mull over.  I had just put up with using crappy disposable pens for a long time.  As so much is done digitally these days, I didn't see the need to buy pens.  After all, there are many freebie pens floating around.  Funnily enough, it was buying the futuristic Apple Pen that spurred me to get an "oldschool" fountain pen.  I liked the fact that it was refillable so it wasn't a disposable, one use only product.  The nib is so smooth. Writing in my daily planner has become an intentional, meditative act that fills me with great joy.  I pay a lot more attention to my penmanship which has tilted towards the illegible due to my increasing reliance on the digital.  The irony that I invested in a digital pen at the same time as a "manual" fountain pen didn't hit me until I received them. Ha! The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Thursday, 4 February 2021

January 2021 Monthly Favourites The Boy The Mole The Fox and The Horse and Erbario Toscano Reed Diffuser

 Welcome Friends!  Time for another monthly favourites.  It is the start of a new year and yet it seems like it is just a continuation of 2020.  Do you feel the same way?  Because I spent so much time at home,  I really dove deep into my heart and soul.  I worked on myself and came to a few fundamental truths about dealing with toxicity in my life.  I will deal with that in a separate post because the topic needs a post of its own.  I am sure that, like many people around the world, 2020 drove home to us what really matters in life.  And if you have toxic people in your life who, after 2020, still cannot find it within themselves to exercise a modicum of kindness and generosity to the people around them, then you are permitted to shield yourself from people like that.  2020 shone a spotlight on the few people who were true friends in my life.  Speaking of friends, a good friend of mine sent me this wonderful book after she heard me raving about it.

This book is, of course, Charles Mackesy's The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse.  It is a collection of drawings accompanied by conversational bon mots between, of course, a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse as they wander around the English countryside.  I think that the first time I read it, tears poured down my face.  It reminded me so much of my soul relationship with a dear departed fur pet.  That pet was my soulmate.  I was so damaged back then, and through my relationship with him, I discovered the unplumbed depths of love, compassion, understanding, friendship that were within me.  There isn't a straightforward plot or a conventional narrative in The Boy, the mole... but I would put it in the same stable as The Alchemist, Le Petit Prince and The Tao of Pooh.  The audiobook, whilst it doesn't have the magical drawings of the hard copy version, is equally magical in its own right as it is narrated by Charles Mackesy himself and is delightfully scored as well as accompanied with the sounds of nature.
Another Christmas gift from a different friend was this reed diffuser by Erbario Toscano.  

I popped it on a little shelf in the bathroom.  You can see it has already gone down by half in just a month which is the fastest of any reed diffuser I have tried and doesn't have a wide scent throw.  I wrote about making your own reed diffusers during Blogmas here.  I do love this one though.  It is the Spicy Vanilla which smells like an expensive men's cologne.   I have become obsessed with anything that creates a cozy, comforting home environment.  It is safe to say that my nesting instincts are in full throttle. 

How did your January go? 

Sunday, 31 January 2021

The Weekly Roundup The Ordinary Concealer Review

 Welcome to another Weekly Roundup.  It has been a slow start to the year.  We are still in lockdown 3.0 in the Big Smoke.  I think I went a wee bit overboard with the cleaning.  I added in a common laundry additive that was supposed to boost the cleaning and brightening power of my laundry detergent.  Unfortunately, my zealousness resulted in a horrid case of hives that covered me from the neck down to my ankles.  I have used a hypoallergenic detergent for decades without any other additives so I am not sure what I was thinking.  As we have been sheltering in place for almost a year, I think I have become a tad OCD with housework If you suffer from allergies, then you can understand that for the last 3 weeks, all I have had on my mind is managing the itching and trying to bring the hives, swelling, and rash under control. 

Never mind, enough of my woes.  I do have something new to take my mind off the ever present desire to scratch at the hives which is the long awaited release of The Ordinary's concealer.  Currently, I am using Jouer's concealer which I talked about here.  I do like it but I am not in love with it as it dries down incredibly fast so there is no blend time at all.  

At 8 ml and an incredibly affordable $5.80 CAD, one can try it out without worrying about wasting a heap of money if the shade is not right.   It is always a bit tricky when trying to choose the right shade online, however, The Ordinary offers an impressive 36 shade range. I chose 1.2N. which is a fair shade with neutral undertones.  I think I could have gone a step darker but I think a light shade is fine for covering up dark undereye circles.   I don't have a lot of opportunity to wear much makeup these days but having a concealer that makes me looks somewhat healthy and alive on Zoom meetings is a must.

The concealer is described as "high coverage."  It does a very good job of covering my dark undereye circles.  There is enough slip so that it blends easily.  I would say that it sits somewhere in the middle of a matte and a dewy finish.  I used Hylamide SubQ Eyes serum before using the concealer.  However, the concealer still settled into the dry patches and fine lines so I might need a more intense moisturizer in the future.  On the plus side, the concealer is alcohol, oil, silicone, nut, gluten and cruelty free and is vegan.  

The tube comes with a long thin nozzle. I am used to using a doe foot applicator.  However, the nozzle allows for a precise controlled use of the product as a tiny amount goes a long way.  

As you can see, it does a more than adequate job of covering the red spots (from my rash) on my hand.  I didn't put any moisturizer or primer on beforehand so you can see that it will highlight lines and creases even though the product description states that it doesn't settle into fine lines.
Overall, I am very pleased with this concealer.  And really, at this price point, one can't complain.  It does the job and I think it will be a true workhorse in my makeup routine.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Making the Most of 2021 New Stay At Home Exercise Routine

 Happy New Year and welcome back!  I really needed a break after doing Blogmas.  The province that I am in declared a State of Emergency this week (again) and issued a Stay at Home Order starting today.  Every time this happens, my emotional state tends to dip down a bit.  It's a bit of a rough start to the year but I am determined to make the most of 2021.

I received this exercise bicycle for Christmas.  I didn't ask for it and it was a huge surprise.  I had basically stopped going on hikes due to a couple of heavy snowfalls so my exercise regimen (already quite minimal) had taken a hit.  This bike uses magnets instead of an oldfashioned chain so it is really quiet. It has a digital readout screen to estimate calories burned and distance "travelled."  

The bike also has a pair of bungee cords for working out one's arms.  To be honest, I usually find workouts to be really boring which is why I prefer getting out into nature.  To encourage myself to stick with working out on the bike, I balance my tablet on top and put on a wildlife or travel documentary.  Like many people, the pandemic pounds crept up on me.  There is no doubt that I overindulged massively in emotional eating.  As we have been sheltering in place for almost a year now (!!), I hope to continue working out at home and doing what I can to maintain my health.

Have you been battling the pandemic pounds as well?

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Blogmas Day 24 Christmas Eve Preparations

 Welcome to Blogmas Day 24!  Only one more sleep to go, yay!  I truly can't believe I made it to the last day.  Truth be told, there were a few instances when I thought of skipping a day or two.  I am so glad that I persevered.  

I did have to go rushing out again to get a few things that I had forgotten.  For example, I needed to pick up some red wine for the pot roast I am planning.  

I picked up some clementines as well.  Clementines just say Christmas to me.  I also picked up this jar of cranberry orange sauce.  This was the only jar of any type of cranberry sauce left in the store.  If you have ever had cranberry orange sauce before, let me know.  
Yes, I do have a couple of very, very last minute gifts to get. I know, I know. I am thinking of digital subscriptions to magazines and newspapers.  There is no waste and it is a gift that keeps on giving.
Wishing you a Lovely, Healthy and Safe Christmas!  Thank you so much for following along with Blogmas.  It is the first time I have ever done Blogmas here on the old bloggity blog.   It gave a much needed rhythm to my days.  Even though this year has been deeply challenging on many levels, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for what I have.  Just remember that if you are alone at Christmas, please reach out,  I am sure that one of my readers would be more than happy to start a supportive conversation.  If there is anything you want me to write about next year, please let me know.  I will see you on the flip side.

Blogmas Day 23 Last Minute Gifts for Children and Tweens

 Welcome to Blogmas Day 23!  Every Christmas, I always promise myself that I will be more organized and not get sucked into a shopping frenzy but inevitably, at the last minute, I get a case of nerves and worry that I didn't get the right gift or the perfect gift or that whatever I did get just isn't good enough.  If anything, this year has taught us what is really important in life.  But still, I was beset by doubts.  This is what happens when you are surrounded by extra demanding people. It doesn't help that we are in lockdown.  Even doing curbside pickup is fraught with difficulty because although the website may say something is in stock and is available for pickup, when you go to checkout, the pickup time is weeks away because the store has to ship it over from another store or warehouse.

I went racing over to the local pharmacy today as I knew they had children's toys.  The shelves looked like a herd of elephants had gone stampeding through.  I wrote about Lego on Day Three.  The Lego boxes that you see above were literally the last ones on the shelf.  

I have no idea what to get a tween, do you?  If you have any ideas, please let me know.  They aren't properly teenagers but they aren't very young children either.  Jenga is a classic game that the whole family can play.  It was also the last one on the shelf.  I picked up a couple of Star Wars Pez Candy as stocking stuffers and, yes, you guessed it, they were the last ones.  Thank goodness for late night pharmacies! I had an elaborate blog post planned for Day 23 but I had to be honest and keep it real.  I also got groceries.  All the essential stores had massive lineups outside.  By the time I got home, I felt completely and utterly shattered.  I had an elaborate blog post planned for Day 23 but I had to be honest and keep it real. 
Only 2 more sleeps until Christmas!  How are you doing with your preparations?

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