Category Archives: food

Simple Pleasures

I love napkins/serviettes. Not just the crisp white linen varieties found in restaurants and at formal dinners, but the pretty paper versions. They make me happy. I know that sounds daft but sometimes it’s the small things scattered throughout the day that bring a smile. I tend to pick up packs of paper serviettes while out and about, and almost always bring them home from trips away, both home and abroad.

20180525_133724While at lunch last week, Jane (after looking at me sideways when I admitted my fetish for paper napkins) helped me demonstrate a particularly pretty variety used by our eating establishment. And no, we hadn’t imbibed too much wine 🙂

Napkins/serviettes have been around a long time. The first napkins were used by the ancient Romans who used pocket-sized pieces of fabric to mop their brows while eating. The Spartans used lumps of dough to wipe their hands, a practice which morphed into sliced bread used by the ancient Greeks. Paper napkins came into use after the invention of paper in ancient China during the 2nd century BCE.

The practical soon became an art form, too. Elaborate napkin folding techniques date back to the time of Louis XIV of France and to 16th century Florence. Today, it is not uncommon to find intricate folding designs both in restaurants and at private functions.

Who knew the simple napkin/serviette could have such an interesting history?

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Laziness or Good Time Management?

January started a bit differently to how I anticipated with a referral back to the Breast Care Unit.  Everything has worked out well and yesterday I had the All Clear. During waiting times I began to think of how I use my use my time, do I fill it up with things to do or am I enjoying my time? Probably a mixture of both but I want to enjoy this next decade of my life.

Large chunks of our days are spent planning, shopping and cooking meals which mostly we enjoy but do any of you sometimes get bored of this activity?  I do so have decided to cut some corners and have a delivery from a company called Hello Fresh which was recommended by a friend.  I await my first delivery next week of three meals to tempt Peter and my taste buds, all the ingredients except oil, salt and pepper are provided.  Meals are packed in a box with icepacks in case we are out so food remains fresh.  Monday 29th marks a change of routine as the only decision I need to make is which meal to cook first. On offer is Balsamic Steak with Red Cabbage and Potato Wedges; Tray-Bake Chicken with Roasted Vegetables, Tomato Salad and Minty Salsa; Thai Pork Stir Fry with Green Beans, Holy Basil and Rice (not sure of Holy Basil as it looks like Basil in the photo!). There is an option to choose different recipes but initially I have taken the easy route by choosing a Classic Box.  Directions are included with glossy pictures to make the process error free so I will report back on progress.

The question is am I being lazy or is this good time management?  By taking the drudge out of the meals I am free to enjoy cooking them but also freeing up time to do other things.  My life is full and active but increasingly I am allowing myself to stop, relax and just be.  In an early blog I mentioned a W H Davies poem Leisure which remains a favourite and a reminder:

“What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare …”

First published in 1911 it is so relevant today. So my aim for 2018 is to stop, stand and stare at times and my goodness what I see.  Sparrows, blackbirds, starlings, robins, tits, pigeons and crows come daily to our garden with their various rituals.  The sparrows inhabit our big green hedge and are a constant source of pleasure to people passing by with their constant chatter.  We live in the centre of town, opposite a fire station and garage but are so lucky with our feathered friends.  Some of our human friends who live in the middle of countryside rarely have birds due to changes in farming techniques.

One more question for all of you – what motivates you to start writing? Please don’t say start!!

A Silly Little Story

Jillian here. Welcome to November. I have been reading about everyone’s travels and wishing I’d been winging away to somewhere fun. Alas, I am working, working, working. I actually have to have another surgery (appreciate some prayers on the 14th) and so I’m trying to work hard to clear my decks before being out for a bit. I am also doing NaNoWriMo- yes, I am crazy.  Just lock me up!

Since it’s been dullsville here in the Florida panhandle, I thought I’d share a silly little piece of flash fiction I did about a year ago. The writing prompt was a picture of breakfast so I wrote this little ditty called Bacon and Eggs:

Bacon and eggs

The bell over the door of the diner tinkled announcing a customer. Tom, the short-order cook, didn’t look up. He was tired of glancing at the door and being disappointed. If only she’d come. Desperate to see her again, he forced himself to focus on the pancakes on the griddle and the sausages in the pan. Keeping everything going at the same time was a challenge when he first came to work at the hole in the wall joint. It wasn’t what he was used to but it was honest work.

“Tom?”

He couldn’t believe it. It must be his imagination. Was it really her voice? One word—his name—and he recognized it?

Afraid to turn around and have his hopes dashed, he ignored the sound and kept his attention on the food orders.

“Tom?”

There it was again. His broken heart must be working overtime to taunt him. He could swear it was her but she was gone. She’d left him long ago. He’d even moved and gotten a job in a place she’d never think to search for him. It wouldn’t be her if he looked. He was sure of it.

“Tom. Please.”

Inhaling deeply, he turned to face the person who relentlessly spoke his name.

Stunned to see the woman he loved and lost, he couldn’t find words. He stared in amazement.

“I’ve found you at last.” She smiled and held her hand out. “Won’t you come home?”

“But you said you couldn’t love me.”

“I was wrong. I see that now.” She stared at the griddle. “What you’ve done is beautiful.”

“I have learned not to burn the bacon and scald the eggs.”

“Please come home. I never meant you to leave. I only wanted you to learn to cook.”

Moving On

 

The Big Birthday has passed amidst great celebrations that lasted over a month! Guess what – I feel so lucky still and mysteriously the same person inside as I did at 69! Maybe a bit wiser!!

Food played a huge part as I dined in “different countries” from Spain, France, Mexico, America as well as Britain. Cuisine I mean of course. I’ve eaten fish, tapas, burritos, vegetarian, pizza, pasta and delicious deserts. I have tasted some wonderful wines, cocktails and gins. Now back to reality, lose extra weight and think about the next decade.

Moving on is necessary for many reasons. One year on from my breast cancer I  had my first check up and all seems well thank goodness.  I have had time to reflect on the events of last year helped by a week house sitting in Bristol, which remains one of my favourite cities. Peter stayed at home so I had lots of time to think and work out what next.  I made a list of priorities which I hope to tick off as I put them into practice. Number one is to use what time I have left (who knows what time any of has?) to live my life to the full but in ways that may not seem to be achieving all the time. Small things like walking, seeing friends, yoga, my choir and my family are valuable experiences in my tapestry that I weave and expand daily.  Some of you might wonder why I talk about these as achievements but it is easy to take things for granted so I plan to improve therefore achieve. I realise I was in danger of being in a rut. Fatigue is a lasting side effect of radiotherapy and it has become easier at times to say to myself I feel so tired I can’t be bothered but when I try I always feel better – small steps maybe but good.  Not great achievements but an important lesson. Learn to value what one has particularly oneself.

So in Bristol I did some things I have wanted to do for a while. I took a trip around the Docks in the sunshine and viewed the city from a different angle. The Matthew replica of John Cabot’s ship that sailed the Atlantic in the 15th century and “discovered” Newfoundland, now part of Canada, was especially interesting from water level.  The Docks, many converted to museums, galleries, cafes and apartments echo with the bustling commercial wealth the city.  Now technology rules but a sense of community was essential for daily life and is part of the area just different. The SS Great Britain, one of Brunel’s great developments, is now a museum but it was huge when viewed from water level.  An interesting commentary was provided by a young man in charge of the boat which brought past events and people to life.  One thing that was pleasing about the trip was the number of different nationalities just in a short hour who shared the experience with me.  Despite some of the awful events over past weeks we all enjoyed being together sharing a good time.  I revisited Bristol Gallery to see a few of my favourite paintings, also the Red Lodge parts of which are Tudor with a replica knot garden. I walked back through the city streets, multicultural, busy, varied and interesting.  A fascinating cityscape.

One guilty secret of my time: I “binge read” a series of crime books by Peter May known as the Enzo Files, 6 books! Home now I look forward to the challenges ahead.

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The Story of Old Blue

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Jillian here. I thought I’d share a bit of fun this month just because I laughed so hard at my husband over this. He and I disagree on what we like to drink out of. I like glass and crystal, … Continue reading

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Is It Me?

A conversation with a friend the other day brought up the subject of pet hates, especially in respect to the modern society as opposed to, say, 50 years ago. After several moments pondering what I hate most one matter sprang … Continue reading

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Lots of Things Afoot at Chez Chantal

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Jillian here!  It’s been a busy time here at Chez Chantal. One of my staff had a stroke on Christmas Eve and, even though she is on the road to recovery, it’s been pretty stressful at the office since things … Continue reading