Posts tagged February
The Year in Books: February

Last month's read (The Miniaturistwas a strange one; I didn't love it, but I liked it a lot, and couldn't  put my finger on what it was that prevented me from loving it. It might have been the ending that seemed to lack closure, or it might have been the lack of focus on the title character, the miniaturist. Either way, the writing was crafted so cleverly and the central characters were so intriguing that the thrill of exploring seventeenth century Amsterdam was enough to warrant an overall positive response. In fact, I think it might be the sort of book that I'd enjoy just as much if I read it a second time, perhaps revealing hidden interpretations that I was quick to dismiss on the first read.


This month I'm running with the theme of romance (I'm ignoring the fact that Valentine's Day was a week ago...) and have decided to make my way through The Virago Book of Love Poetry. I've always loved poetry; my creative writing dissertation at university ended up consisting entirely of poems, and I loved creating something in a small space that allowed for an intense use of language that isn't always appropriate in prose. I am also pleased to select a book from Virago Press, the international publisher of books by women. Publishing authors such as Maya Angelou, Margaret Attwood and Sarah Waters, I feel in good hands when I pick up a book from this publishing house. Incidentally, a virago is often considered a courageous, confident woman of strength and spirit; something to aspire to this month as well, perhaps?

What are you planning to read this month? As always, for more recommendations or to take part in The Year in Books, head over to the link-up at Circle of Pine Trees.

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Eat Seasonably in February

This month is all about getting through the last leg of winter, keeping warm on an evening and making the most of fresh produce. I've been inspired recently by colour in food and have been searching to create a visual feast as well as a tasty meal, and in February colours can fire up every plate if you know what to look for. Why not try a carrot and red pepper soup for a vibrant red lunch or quick dinner? Purple sprouting broccoli is also in season and is so much tastier than the broccoli you usually find in supermarkets - eat it stalk, leaves and all as a side dish.

Rhubarb is just starting to appear on the shelves in its forced form and offers sweet, earthy flavours best enjoyed in a hearty crumble or as a purée served atop crunchy cereal and yoghurt at breakfast-time. Its pink tinged stalks offer further colourful delights, or for an alternative fruity start to the day blood oranges are still in season - delicious freshly-squeezed.

Other vegetables to try this month are cauliflower (creamy cauliflower cheese anyone?) and leeks. Try both alongside any cheese as a side dish or add leeks to a casserole or soup for supper on cold evenings. Leeks also work well in any pasta dish or enjoy them roasted alongside carrots and parsnips. Add a joint of meat and you're in for a happy evening; this week we're slow-cooking a leg of lamb to enjoy alongside the vegetables and apple and mint jelly  - a perfect pre-Spring treat.


February is all about… the end of winter, vast numbers of pancakes, the start of lent and being thankful for love.

Something to eat: Pancakes! Every time my mum asked me what I wanted to eat as a child I would reply pancakes. They were for special occasions only, and I remember savouring every last bite and always wanting just one more. Today I eat them as I have always done with a sprinkling of sugar and far too much lemon juice. Want a fool-proof recipe? You can never go wrong with Delia.

Something to visit: For those with children or those who work in education, February means half-term. Check out fun activities or places to visit in your area with the National Trust - perfect for making the most of the great outdoors as spring unfurls.

Something to make: DIY chalkboard mugs are the perfect way to show a loved one you care, or to have a little fun with during the office tea break. Check out this easy tutorial here.

Something to celebrate: Valentine's Day. Love it or loathe it, celebrate it or boycott it, it's definitely here to stay, and it explodes onto our radar in the middle of this month. Dan and I don't usually go out for dinner or have a traditional Valentine's date as such, but we do like to try and spend it together, appreciating each other's company and taking a step back to be thankful for what we have.

Something a bit different: Start Valentine's Day as you mean to go on and give alphabet dating a try. Simply plan a date based on each letter of the alphabet - this could be bi-weekly, monthly, or however often you choose.