Blossom and Cully May came to visit yesterday and what a wonderful visit it was.
They stayed for the whole day so we chatted about everything under the sun, drank tea, ate corned beef sandwiches and laughed lots as Cully May danced in rhythm to Third Day, explored every inch of the house, discovered Sophie's hiding place and spent ages patting her gently and calling her 'doggy' (which did not impress our cat) and generally entertained us as only an exuberant 14 month old can.
Only a little over four months until Blossom has her baby and after a lot of ill health during the first half of her pregnancy she is glowing with joy and excitement as the big day draws nearer.
She's still trying to avoid my camera but there's no mistaking how beautiful my daughter and granddaughter are.
Today the pest control man came and sprayed for cockroaches, ants and spiders. We discovered there was a lot of pest 'activity' when we moved in last month and thankfully the estate agent arranged for the problem to be dealt with.
I stayed in the sewing room and prepared some new designs for stitching while he went about his work. Once he'd gone I put a loaf of sunflower and flaxseed bread in the breadmaker for kneading and the first rise while I browsed some cookie recipes and planned the evening's menu.
My husband prefers biscuits (cookies) to cake and I should make them more often than I do, so I dug out the recipe for Frangipane Jam Drops and having all the ingredients on hand I set to work baking.
These are really easy to make and especially good when you have just a bit of jam left in the jar and want to finish it off.
After rolling the mix into balls I press the end of a wooden spoon into some flour and then press it again into the middle of the jam drop dough.
As well as giving you perfect holes to fill with a bit of jam the flour prevents the jam from falling through the base of the dough during baking.
I bake my jam drops a little longer than the recipe states as we like our biscuits (cookies) golden.
When Mr E arrived home from work we munched away on a few jam drops and sipped cappuccinos as we chatted about our day.
I wasn't bothered about spoiling our dinner because enjoying special moments, even simple things like a cuppa and bikkies in the late afternoon, matters more.
Life experience tells me these moments are to be lived as they come because you never know what cherished memories you are making.
Tomorrow I'm going to give this recipe a try.
It was in a Daphne's Diary magazine and looks delicious! I have all the ingredients except the gruyere cheese so I'll use tasty cheddar and a little parmesan instead.
Here's a close up of the Tomato Tart recipe in case you'd like to try it too.
Served with an avocado salad this will hopefully be a simple success and can be added to my menu folder.
Before we moved house I was 'shopping from the pantry' for a couple of weeks to use up perishable produce and empty our freezer, and the bonus of that was a continuation of this mindset after we settled in the new home.
We still only have the one vehicle (the Jeep is not yet back on the road) and live quite a distance from the shops so as I don't go out during the week home delivered groceries are a blessing indeed.
With my one delivery arriving early in the week I plan meals around what's in season, what's on special and what we like - but over the weekend I take note of what's left in the fridge, freezer and pantry and create meals from that, giving me no wastage and a fresh start next delivery day.
You know, I'm quite shocked at how much our grocery bill has reduced with each week that passes living like this.
Not going out saves money anyhow, but no longer visiting the supermarket every couple of days has saved us even more. No more impulse buys, no more doubling up on items because shopping from home means I can check the pantry before ordering, no more temptations to cut corners and buy processed foods or take-away. No more mindless filling of a trolley.
Confession time - before the last of our children left home I was a brilliant budget/menu keeper, but when we became empty nesters I began to shop mindlessly and impulsively. No wonder the grocery bill didn't reduce.
I've mostly always cooked from scratch ( I love cooking!) but before the move we usually had take-out once a week and again at the weekend to give me a break, so at first when we moved here and circumstances changed it kind of frustrated me preparing meals seven days and nights each week because I wanted a night (or more) off. But now it's become a lovely rhythm of life and I've learned some important lessons about simplifying, using what's on hand, and taking it slow. When I prepare food now, whether to bake or for a meal, I'm right there in the moment, fully attentive to the joy of making something wonderful from a variety of ingredients.
There was a time when I wanted to try a number of different recipes each week, but in hindsight that didn't go down well with my beloved. He's a simple bloke who likes simple food. And when I thought about that I realised simple food is what I prefer too.
All those episodes of Masterchef had made me think I needed to try new things, new techniques...but since letting go of that idea and returning to tasty, familiar and seasonal meals my husband and I are really content.
I'm enjoying baking bread every second day, picking herbs from our own pots and doing dinner preparation in the morning while the washing machine is running a load.
I also listened to my husband and began to cook smaller serves because he's been telling me for ages that I put too much on the plate. This has also cut down on wastage as I order less ingredients and nothing is left on our plates to throw away.
So I've learned to re-value something which had lost it's importance.
Live simply, live within or under your means, only prepare what you'll enjoy eating and don't cook more than you need unless you intend putting some aside for another meal or you're giving it away.
Learning and changing to suit our situation in life is a good thing, but I do wish I'd figured this out sooner. Having said that, it's been a real joy to share my life lessons with Blossom as I go along because she's a homemaker too, a young wife with a young family, and she is learning big lessons early on. Discussing the life lessons I'm learning is like a springboard to her because she takes my example and she thinks it through herself, then comes back to me with further insight - so I'm learning from her as well.
Cully May will have a wonderful example in her mummy when she one day steps out into adult life.
I've always told Blossom the role of a mother is to teach her daughters to be a better mother than herself. She's doing exactly that and I couldn't be prouder.
Is your life in need of simplifying too?
God bless you precious one,