Posts tagged April
Eat Seasonably in April

April is, inevitably, dominated by Easter, and what's on our plates is no exception. Rather than stocking up on chocolate eggs from the supermarkets, though, why not try and make some of your own delicious treats? Hot cross buns are the obvious choice, but as someone who really isn't the biggest fan of mixed peel, I tend to add cranberries and other dried fruit and remove the peel. Seeing chocolate at every turn makes it hard to resist, so for once give in to temptation and indulge in a decadent brownie or rich chocolate torte, and serve with homemade ice cream or crème fraîche. I'm hungry just thinking about it.

Fish is the order of the day in April, so why not take advantage of fresh white crab meat and make your own crab fishcakes? Add a dip and some greens and you've got a heavenly dinner ahead of you. If you're after something a bit heartier, try a fish pie. Bulk it out with prawns and white fish, but make sure you include some salmon too for a richer flavour. Top with creamy mash and serve with peas for the ultimate comfort food.

If after all that you find yourself searching for something a little lighter (and this is something I will often find as the sunshine starts to appear and the days get longer), then try roasting some new season veg like radishes, blitz some beans to make a dip and serve with crispy flatbreads; lunches just got a whole lot more exciting. If salads are more your thing, then simply add a sliced spiced chicken breast and anything from the deli counter (sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese...) for a quick, easy dinner.

April

April is all about... new life and fresh beginnings, eggs (both chocolate and chicken), alfresco breakfasts, morning dew, raindrops and listening to the dawn chorus.

Something to eat: Easter tends to call for a roast dinner, so what better than a leg of lamb with baby potatoes and garlic crème fraîche, followed by profiteroles and lemon curd ice cream. Head over here for the recipes.

Something to visit: A whole host of National Trust properties that are offering Easter egg trails alongside Cadbury this month. This website offers you the chance to search for events in your area, and with over 300 there's bound to be something going on near you!

Something to make: A wreath for Spring. Be inspired by these ideas, or have a look at my Autumn wreath tutorial to guide you through the basics. Bringing nature into the home is something that I am really trying to do more of this year, and wreaths are a great way to mark the changing of the seasons.

Something to celebrate: Shakespeare would have been 451 years old this month. Why not read a play or sonnet in his memory? Or if you're in the area, join in the birthday celebrations in Stratford-Upon-Avon that include a parade featuring a 3 metre wide horse drawn birthday cake, workshops, readings and street theatre.

Something a bit different: Every been to an event based entirely on fire? Inspired by a traditional Gaelic celebration, Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh takes place on the final day of the month and sparks the beginnings of summer with a procession led by the Green Man and the May Queen, which is followed by lighting an enormous bonfire. Head over here for more information.

April in Pictures
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April has been a month spent mainly outdoors; just as it should be!

(From top left) Barter Books - a bibliophile's heaven; chocolate Easter bakes courtesy of my mum; the views walking up to Lindisfarne Castle; framing the view at Dunstanburgh Castle; a spring-like fusion of floral colours; Hadrian's wall; beautiful blossom; a somewhat old-fashioned method of transport; a hazy holiday sunset.

What have you been up to this month?

CC x

Bee Keeping: Starting Up

I've mentioned once or twice on Twitter that Mr CC is taking up beekeeping, and he is beyond excited about the new course he has just started.  Beekeeping has been experiencing somewhat of an incline in popularity over the last year or so, which is encouraging when you consider that the population of bees is declining; if the decline continues at this rate then the future of bees is bleak.  Greenpeace state that without insect pollination, 75% of our crops would "suffer some decrease in productivity"; the days and joys of eating apples, strawberries and tomatoes for instance, would be over.

So what are we supposed to do about it?  I'll leave you in Mr CC's safe hands... Bee keeping can have a bit of stigma attached to it: namely that only old people, farmers and people with too much time on their hands keep bees.  I'm here to prove that not only is bee keeping making a come back, but that it's also essential if our countryside is to continue to grow and progress in the same way.

So why did I take up beekeeping?  Besides the fact that honey is delicious and has many uses, I wanted to play my part in sustaining the future of a species. Bees are fascinating creatures that have been harvested by man for over 6,000 years; they can provide honey, pollen (pure protein), beeswax for crafting, and increased pollination for plants within 3 miles of the hive. Keeping bees is an excellent way to help save an insect so crucial to the future of the ecosystem, and over the next few months I will be writing about the highs and lows of my new hobby obsession.

So what about all of you non-beekeepers out there; what can you do to help the plight of the bee? Luckily, Help Save the Beeshave produced 10 top tips for things you can do.

I'll be posting over the next few weeks about how you can achieve some of these, particularly focusing on bee-friendly plants and (quite obviously) how to become a beekeeper.  For now, I hope my first blog post hasn't been a disaster, and please do comment or send an email if you have any more questions about beekeeping.  Next time I'll be taking you through what you need to start up as a beekeeper, including how to build a hive.

If you are interested in keeping bees yourself, check out courses in your area via The British Beekeepers Association here.

Happy Monday!

CC x

April in the Garden
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I'm starting a(nother) new blog series about my garden.  I'm a very nosy person generally, and I like to be able to connect what I read with what I see, so what better way to do this than a round up of things that are sprouting through the soil or in the polytunnel right now. (From top left) Tiny, sweet radishes ripe for eating whole in salads; growth in the polytunnel; buds appearing slowly but surely on the apple tree; mounds covering the early potatoes we recently planted; beautiful blue hiding amongst the long, lush grasses; pea plants emerging; a host of golden daffodils - still gloriously in flower; lots and lots of seed planting; my favourite daffodil in the garden - a late variety so only just flowering now.

How's your garden looking this April?

CC

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Eleanor CheethamApril
The Year in Books: April
theyearinbooksapril

theyearinbooksaprilLast month I read Hemingway's 'A Moveable Feast' and what a feast it was.  As previously mentioned, Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world; I love the winding back-streets, the elegant architecture and the patisseries.  Especially the patisseries.  Hemingway captured his Paris perfectly; the Paris of Fitzgerald and Joyce, struggling to make ends meet but happy nonetheless, parties of Gertrude Stein and copious amounts of wine.  I finished wishing it could go on another hundred pages, already planning my next trip to the city.

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I have also started to read Alistair Horne's 'Seven Ages of Paris' in response to this month's choice, although I feel as though it will be a dip-in-and-out-of book, and as such I have chosen a different book, a novel, for next month.

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'The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite' is not a new book (it was published in 2009) however it is one that has been lost at the back of my bookshelf, and as such has been overlooked.  I was recommended to read it by a family member who thoroughly enjoyed the crafting of character and emotional storyline.  Do let me know if you have read this one before!

As always, check out Circle of Pine Trees for more information about The Year in Books or for some more great recommendations.  Happy reading!

CC

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Goals: April
april's goals

I've been inspired by Vivatramp to start a new blog series to do with another of my favourite things - lists.  I have lived my life through lists at times: to do lists, shopping lists, life lists, lists for lists, the list goes on...  In fact I find they focus me like no other organisational method can, so I will unashamedly admit to being a list addict.

This series of lists will guide me through each month of the year, and although these ideas already exist in my ever-growing pile of notebooks, it seems more definite and concrete to share them with you all on here.  So here goes.

  1. Make more time for reading.  Having a full time job plus blogging and the upkeep of our house and garden, really does reduce the amount of time I have left for reading.  It's something that I have always done at night in bed, just before falling asleep; it would calm my senses before enabling me to happily drift off.  Unfortunately, my body clock is rebelling.  Now, as soon as my head hits the pillow I switch off and all hopes of reading drift away with consciousness.  I need to fall back into better reading habits so that I can really enjoy the sensation of losing myself in a gripping tale.
  2. Blog at least 5 times a week.  I know that if I say just 2 or 3, then I'll lose focus, hence the optimistic statistic.  I work much better when I have a set routine; I like to know what's happening when, and that means my weekdays should ideally follow a similar structure.  I'm also supposed to be eating porridge every morning in an attempt to have a healthy breakfast, but that's not really working.  More structure required!
  3. Live in an organised house, rather than organised chaos.  Reading the previous goal, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I live in an extremely organised house.  You wouldn't be the first to make that mistake.  My house is organised for approximately 20% of the time; at weekends I will often get a sudden but bursting urge to tidy, clean and sort out everything in sight.  This will tire me out so much, that the house will be neglected for the rest of the week.  So the plan is to do little and often.  We shall see.
  4. Carry out random acts of kindness.  This needs little explanation; I am quite good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries etc.  but I really would like to cheer people's days for no other reason other than genuine kindness.  Probably the most important of my goals this month.
  5. Stop slouching.  Must.  Stop.  Slouching.  On.  Sofa.  My sofa is the best sofa in existence if you want to lounge around, sleep, stretch out... but I need to learn that the desk is much more suitable for blogging and work, especially because I occasionally suffer from lower back pain.  That said, I am often quite lazy once I'm settled in a certain location, and am currently writing this post while stretched out on the sofa.  Not a great start.

Do you have any goals to share?  Please leave links and / or ideas below!

CC

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