trEAsure

Chirpy chirpy tweet tweet…beeeep…

Hot chocolate, Café Zéphyr, Paris

Day 3   – Imagine that…

…you are tucked up warmly in bed sipping a mug of steaming hot cocoa and a enjoying a good read.  The light fades dimly in the background casting soft shadows around the room, you yawn and snuggle down drifting into a deep sleep as the room is now plunged into total darkness.

English: Willow Warbler (trochilus) Whiteworks...Birdsong

Eight hours later you are woken gently from your dreams by a soft light bathing the room like sunshine on a fine summers morning, the rays becoming brighter and brighter as the air is filled with a chorus of gently trilling birds.  You wake refreshed and after a soft cat like stretch, fling off the covers and leap out of bed wide awake, eager to start another day.

English: Alarm clock 日本語: 目覚まし時計

Well not quite how it went just rewind to ….eight hours later you are woken abruptly to the sound of continuous chirping birds as well as the intermitent sound of two other beeping alarm clocks (that were on standby just in case) and realise you have failed to wake up at all this morning.  In fact hubby obviously woke first and judging by the empty side of the bed I presumed was already in the shower escaping the noise.

One by one I hit each of the alarms until silence at last….. aah much better until that is hubby appears back in the bedroom draped in a towel and whistling the same b***** dawn chorus.

Anyone want to buy a Lumie Bodyclock – good as new – one careful owner!

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trEAsure

Dawn chorus or a tweet too far…

the ongoing saga of the Lumie Bodyclock lamp…

 

Lumie Bodyclock

Day 1

– Saturday night and we lay watching the gradual sunset fade into darkness and we were asleep before we knew it with the lamp set for the birdsong and light to wake us at 7am on Sunday morning…can’t wait

Sunday morning – I awoke to a wonderful sunny glow lighting up our room – this is good I thought – and very realistic –  but absolute silence… I listened but no chirping whatsoever – not a dickybird!

I then realised it was 9am –  I had overslept and the sun was flooding the room with natural light not the fake sunrise I was expecting –  I had slept solidly for 9 hours and for once felt wide awake and raring to go – both the lamp and alarm had failed –  my better half had obviously read the Chinese instructions but it had inadvertently cured my sleep deprivation!

Day 2

-Once again tucked up in bed on Sunday night and once again we fell soundly asleep to the effects of the gradual sunset  I don’t remember anything until I awoke suddenly at 5.23am in the pitch black – nothing appeared to be happening with the lamp and acknowledging it was too early and too cold to get up promptly fell back to sleep.

6.23am something roused me – hurrah at last it was the sunrise beginning to stir and a few minutes later there is the bird song…and then there is more birdsong…and more birdsong and more birdsong – how can anyone snooze through that – obviously some people can as my better half is still fast asleep and snoring.

With a gentle nudge I ask ‘Can you switch it off?’    A half-hearted mumble mumble replied…so I head for the shower room out of the din.  Returning 15 minutes later to the bedroom the light is full on now and the room full of twittering and hubby still sound asleep and snoring with his head under the covers blocking out both light and noise!

Out come the instructions again…

Third night lucky…so do excuse me now while I go and get ready for bed!!

trEAsure

Resetting the bodyclock…

I am sitting here watching an all time favourite of the Good Life with Tom and Barbara – the one about the pigs.  I often fancied myself as Barbara living in her suburban home spending all day in the garden growing veg and tending her animals and doing it all whilst under the influence of that famous Peapod wine.  I especially liked their fun minimalist Christmas with newspaper hats and the knitted jumpers.

I spent most of the day being swept along by a hoard of Christmas shoppers in the Cheadle branch of John Lewis.  You can always tell the Cheadle branch by the number of Rolls Royces in the carpark!

I wasn’t Xmas shopping myself – just browsing –  and my reason for going was to check out the Lumie Bodyclock light as I am finding it extremely difficult to rouse myself on these dark wintry mornings.  I am not sure about you but each year as I get older it gets harder to wake up and get going.  The early morning traffic on the roads in the last week or two has been so bad I have found myself late for work so drastic action is called for – hence the light.

So to go back to the clock – we did buy one and having unwrapped it and read the instructions we are told that we can have sunset and sunrise which gently puts you to sleep and wakes you up, 5 different alarm sounds to choose from –  Big Ben or drums (I don’t think so) to birdsong or wind chimes (sounds better) or plain old beep (perhaps not).  So we will try out the birdsong although I suspect I might just sleep through it – I have never been aware of the birds chirping outside before.

Lumie Bodyclock

The Lumie Bodyclock Go 75

It also boasts a snooze feature – definitely a must in my case –  I am no lark and will put off that moment when my body has to be forced out of bed and into the shower. I always set my alarm 15 mins early so I can fit in 3 five-minute snoozes, a bit like the traffic light system wait, get ready…go.

Lumie Bodyclock

I will keep you posted on how well we do getting up in the mornings from now on…or not!

 

And continuing the cushion saga – in and amongst I bought two feather cushion pads as they did have the right size and decided I will, for now, reuse the knitted cushion covers from the cottage as I wasn’t inspired enough by the cushions on display in John Lewis either.

I did see the most beautiful soft woollen throw in muted colours just right for our bedroom but at £180 I had to leave it behind!

How did your Saturday go?  Have you started the Xmas shopping yet?

fEAsting, meal planning, organising, rEArranging, trEAsure

Easy steps to organised cooking…

Believe it or not there is a term that incorporates organising with cooking.  If you saw the state of my kitchen at times after a baking session you would not think this possible.  The term I refer to is ‘Mise en place’ – quite simply it is French for ‘put in place’ a trained chef would refer to it as prepping.  

I like to call it Blue Peter cooking if you can remember that far back (and no you do not need any empty Fairy liquid bottles).  Every ingredient is pre weighed or prepared and then placed into something like a glass Pyrex bowl.  If you want to refresh your memory just take a look at this brilliant clip (wait for the trailer to finish) and note the bowls of ingredients all ready to go.  I think I might even make those cute mini Dalek cakes!

Having quite a tiny kitchen I adopted this method a while ago and it has much improved the way I keep myself and the kitchen organised whilst cooking and baking. 

Firstly I read through the recipe and collect all the ingredients together. 

mise en place 4

Then I weigh and pre-prepare everything and place into little bowls such as these cuties I found recently in Waitrose…

Pyrex Bowls

Now you might think that this method increases the washing up load with all those little bowls (and you would be right to some extent) however, I find that having one ingredient per bowl isn’t necessary as you can generally combine many of the ingredients. 

For instance when making a cake all the dry ingredients can be put together,

Mise en place 5

or with something like Nutloaf I combine the nuts and breadcrumbs and similarly with veg soup I would combine any veg added at the same stage of cooking.

mise en place 3

 

…then have a good clean up before launching into the mixing and cooking.

 

I don’t weigh out the olive oil for cooking but I do get the bottle out of the cupboard and have it ready together with all the utensils I am going to need.  Before I begin I would also check I have the right baking dish and prepare that too.

The bonus of this method is you don’t come across those little surprises halfway through a recipe when you discover that the only egg you thought you had has been eaten for breakfast that morning and too late to abandon the recipe you end up dashing to the local shop or next door.

The tendency is always to rush into the mixing and cooking but I find organising myself this way I avoid burning one thing in the pan whilst I am hurriedly preparing something else or forgetting an ingredient altogether.  I can remember many times trying to add that pinch of salt or herbs to a rolled up ball of pastry having forgotten to include it when it was just at the crumb stage!  

I noticed that the ‘forgotten’ ingredient happened quite regularly on the Bake Off – and who, I would like to know, does all their clearing up?