Food Glorious Food · Nature · Seasons · Slow Living · The Great Outdoors

Chocolate Bites & Tea from a Flask

As much as I love the muted shades and coziness that Winter brings,  I get to the point where I’m ready to feel the sun on my face again. I’m ready for the lighter evenings & the splashes of colour popping up in the gardens & fields. It’s nice to have the pretty blooms appearing in our not so perfect garden, the ones we forgot we’d planted last year.


Getting outdoors is big on my list of things to do this spring. Longer dog walks and days away with girls. The simple things like packing a flask of tea and heading off for a windswept adventure somewhere.  Living up North doesn’t guarantee much sun, but finding a sheltered spot to sit down to a hot mug of tea & some homemade treats really is enough to shake those cobwebs away & feel refreshed again.


On those days where perhaps we don’t want to venture far we love to just potter around the house, doing a little baking or crafting. The easter holidays allowed us plenty of slower days just to catch up on all those craft boxes we have piling up or make some healthier snacks which I’m still to get my 7 year old to like…It’s an on going battle I tell you, but I won’t be defeated! One of my favourites are these chocolate bites which I keep in the fridge and head to when something sweet is calling, which at present it is doing a lot, we have so many easter eggs in our home!!

Chocolate Bites (adapted from a recipe by Madeleine Shaw)

Ingredients:

◦ 50g Almonds

◦ 50g Pistachio nuts

◦ 35g Dried Cranberries

◦ 150g Pitted Dates

◦ 50g Raw Cacao Powder

◦ 3 tbsp Coconut Oil

◦ sml Pinch Salt

Method:

In a food Processor blend the nuts to your desired size and add to a mixing bowl. Then blend the cranberries, adding to the bowl then the dates so that they become a smoothish paste. Add to the bowl with the cacao, salt & coconut oil and mix together. Its easier to use your hand at this point to blend all the ingredients together, its gets rather messy though! You could use the blender to mix everything together but I find the heat from using your hands works better! When everything is combined add the mixture to a small baking dish or plastic lunch box and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. After this time it should be easy enough to tip out onto a chopping board to cut up into bite size pieces. You may need to go around the edge with a knife to help it out. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (although I doubt they’ll last that long!)

These are my go to chocolate treat when I’m trying to avoid all the sugar. It doesn’t always work but they really are delicious and worth a try if you like me are attempting a healthier lifestyle.

I think I failed on the easter crafts a bit this year, & the easter baking, we usual do a lot more but we still kept ourselves busy playing with clay and burning drawings onto wood slices. We’re fairly nature based, without trying, it seems to be our go to when drawing or creating but occasionally my daughter will pull a football out of the bag. I particularly loved her take & I must say an uncanny resemblance to Wayne Rooney. We now have him etched for eternity on a wood slice! Perhaps he’d appreciate a gift from a fan? Anyone have his address?!

Love Victoria

Creative · Nature · Seasons · Slow Living · The Great Outdoors

Wildness is a Necessity

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‘Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilised people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity…”

John Muir said that, and he wasn’t far wrong!

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We try to visit the Scottish highlands at least once a year, and each year I leave feeling inspired and ready to create. There is an innocence to the wildness out there, at points it seems you are the only person around for miles, so small and so fragile. The weather can turn from a gentle breeze to a full blown storm in a matter of minutes and usually (always) I’m unequipped to deal with that but if I was I would stand and take it all in just that little bit longer. Take a few hundred more photos and sit and sketch with a flask of tea by my side. In reality I’m screaming “stop the car” at my husband so I can dive out, brave the wind/rain/snow/sleet and take a photo.

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The last couple of months have left me feeling a little un inspired with regards to getting creative and I feel rather off the ball since having my baby but I know that my creativity isn’t something I can switch off. It’s always there yet sometimes I am so busy with being mama that it’s had to take a back seat. A change of scenery was definitely in order, for all of I us I think. This year though, I didn’t take my sketchbook as I knew there wouldn’t be the time to sketch but I did everything I could to take it all in. I took many a photo on my phone and vowed next year I’ll have purchased a camera so I can take proper photos. I made mental notes of the colours of the heather, the mustard yellows and the earthy greens so I can use this in my future work. I slowed down so I could just stop and breath it all in because Scotland to me, feels like home.

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I don’t think any of us wanted to return to reality. Perhaps their reasons weren’t the same as mine, I imagine it had more to do with returning to school and work but I know I was sad to leave the wild ruggedness of Scotland behind. I left with a knowing feeling I’ll return sooner rather than later and if I manage to grab some time to myself to create then hopefully I can put some of these memories and feelings into a piece of art or two. The time has come to start making and selling again. My maternity leave is coming to an end soon and the time to get back on the ball is fast approaching. I can’t say I’m the type who puts on her business head well but as long as I have the inspiration then I’ll have the urge to create, and as long as I’m creating then hopefully I’ll be selling and the cycle begins. Plus its the perfect reason to head back north to the mountains…any excuse!!

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Oh and before I go, look as this handsome chap we got to meet while we were there. Highland Safaris, if you ever find yourself in the area is well worth a visit!

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Love Victoria

 

Nature · Seasons · Slow Living

So Good In Every Way

 

 

As we say goodbye to Autumn and welcome in the shorter days I find I’m getting outdoors less and less. I really should try harder though because there’s something wonderful about wrapping up warm, heading out for a long walk & coming home to an open fire,  cosy blankets and a nice hot mug of tea!

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So when chatting to the fabulous Ali about being guest judge for  So Good In Every Way  What more of a perfect excuse to remind myself to just slow the heck down. We decided on using #sgiew_wonder  and I’d love it if you’d join me over on Instagram for the next couple of weeks where I’ll be hopefully taking the time to remind myself of all the beauty that nature has to offer and the sheer pleasure of warming cold toes by the fire. Its the simple things really!

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If you head head over to  http://incredibusy.com Ali will explain ‘How To’ and you can follow the So Good in Every Way team over on Instagram.

@sogoodineveryway

@incredibusy

@redtedart

@willowdaygram 

and me @featherandwild

Don’t forget to use #sgiew  &  #sgiew_wonder on your photos and I’ll be picking my 9 favourites in a couple of weeks!

Love Victoria

 

Food Glorious Food · Seasons · Slow Living

Hibernating & Apple Crumble

My love of Autumn stems back to childhood. Kicking fallen leaves is still one of my favourite things to do and I have been known to cross the road in the past if the other side is of better leaf kicking quality!

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It’s also the time hibernation commences. I strongly believe all humans should partake in the occasional spell of hibernation. There’s nothing like switching off technology, locking the front door and sitting by the fire with a hot drink and a big cosy jumper. Time to catch up on your favourite magazine. Read that book you’ve been meaning too or pick up that sketchbook and pen.

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For me, hibernation starts in October. The curtains are closed as soon as is justifiable. The world is shut out for the evening and pyjamas are on the same time as the kids. The candles are lit and the fire is stoked. Its the time I switch from smoothies to porridge for breakfast. A time when soup is a perfectly suitable meal most days and I crave stews and one pot dinners. Then of course, there is Crumble!

Apple crumble is my treat for that extra bit of comfort when the nights start drawing in. There are many variations of crumble recipes out there but the one I use and have found to be the most likely to have me heading back to the fridge for third helpings is this:

Apple Crumble Recipe

Serves 8, no 4, possibly 6 depending on how big your portions are!

Ingredients:

 Filling:

◦ Approx 500g of Brambley Apples, peeled cored & sliced into 1cm chunks (ish)  You can use eating apples if you’d prefer which offer a slightly healthier version as less sugar is needed. I’d use 1 tbsp of caster sugar rather than 2.

◦ 2 tbsp Caster Sugar

Crumble:

◦ 175g Plain Flour

◦ 110g Caster Sugar

◦ 110g cold butter, cubed

◦ Pinch of salt

Topping:

◦ 1tbsp Oats

◦ 1tbsp light brown sugar

Method:

Fill up a baking dish with the chopped apples. Squash down with your hand and sprinkle over the 2 tbsp’s of caster sugar.

Place the flour and 110g caster sugar in a bowl with good pinch of salt. Rub in the cold cubed butter with your fingertips to create a breadcrumb texture.

Pour the crumble mix over the apples and flatten down with the back of a fork to even it out and so it holds together when cooked. Sprinkle the light brown sugar and the oats evenly over the top.

Pop into into a pre heated oven at 170 / gas 5,  for 35 – 40 minutes until the top is golden and the apples are soft.

Try waiting 10 minutes or so before consuming as burning of the mouth can occur to the impatient kind. (Trust me I know!)

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Life of course, does go on and true hibernation is not an option but then if it were, I’d have to have some time off each week to head outdoors. To kick those leaves and to breath in those cold crisp mornings because without these I wouldn’t be reminded how wonderful it is to see & feel the seasons changing and that would be very sad indeed.

But as the clocks change, and the days get shorter, its highly likely I’m to be found in my pjs, fighting with the dog for the warm spot by the fire, bowl of crumble in one hand, spoon in the other.

Love Victoria.