Slow & Simple Ideas - June & July

So today the heating is on. I'm wearing a cardigan and my thick woolen socks. It's hard to believe it is almost July and not October. Only a few days ago we were sweltering in 30 degree heat and it was impossible to keep cool. It's a strange pattern of weather for sure. This weekend we're off on a camping adventure and the weather is looking somewhat mixed. So I haven't a clue what to pack. What I do know is we'll be off grid for a few days. No wi-fi, no phone signal, no being plugged in. Instead it's books, food, walking and gazing at the stars (if we get a clear sky). I can't wait. For now, here are some ways to simplify and go slow during these summer months. 

Go slow outdoors - Head out to the park or the woods and enjoy a good old picnic. Take a book, lie down, feel the sunshine warming your body. Notice the grasses, the wildflowers and the breeze blowing the leaves on the trees. Watch out for butterflies and dragonflies.

  • If you hate the wasps or midges, make your own insect repellent spray from essential oils. I'm giving this recipe a go for our camping trip.

  • Gather flowers from the garden and make little jam jar posies. I'm cutting wildflower poppies, foxgloves, mallow, jasmine, honeysuckle and salvia and they are scenting my home beautifully.

  • Visit a nature reserve and enjoy the healing power of birdsong, lush greenery and the wildlife doing their thing. I'm never happier than when I'm immersed in butterfly and bee spotting. And if there are dragonflies - then oh my days, I'm in paradise. If you live near Cambridge or are planning a journey near there then do go visit Wicken Fen, looked after by the National Trust, it's the best nature reserve I've ever been to. I've never seen so many dragonflies, damsonflies and butterflies - they were everywhere. If you are in Yorkshire, then Flamborough Cliffs Nature Reserve is simply stunning with coastal wildflowers and you might get a chance to see the Puffins in flight too. I wrote this post about our visit last year.

Harvest herbs for drying - Last year I had to take out my two huge lavender bushes as they were getting very woody looking. So this year I only have one small plant to cut from and dry out the flower heads. I'm going to make an infused sugar this time around. Below is the recipe along with some other ideas for using dried herbs from the garden. 

  • Infused sugars - Combine two:one sugar to herb in a sealed container. Make sure the lavender is completely dry before putting it into the sugar otherwise it will clump. After a couple of weeks the sugar will be infused and it'll keep for around three months. Perfect for teacher gifts approaching the end of term or to make closer to Christmas for stocking fillers.

  • Last year I made these wild rose and herb smudge sticks to scent the air and the year before that, a herb wreath to hang in my bedroom.

  • Make your own lavender scented bags to put in drawers and cupboards.

  • Make a lavender vinegar for natural cleaning of glass and windows. Gather up the buds, pop them in a jar and cover with vinegar. Store in a dark cupboard for around a month, shaking periodically. Mix with a little water in a spray bottle and you are ready to use. (You might want to add a little lavender essential oil to the mix if you want a stronger lavender smell).

Keep it simple and seasonal in the kitchen - Aahh, summer food. It's one of life's greatest pleasures I believe. From all the luscious berries, peaches and melons to the leafy salads, courgettes, peas and beans - it makes me so darned happy. This is what I'm eating during the summer season. 

  • I start the day with fresh berries. As soon as I get up I mix a little granola with some greek yoghurt. Leave it to sit for at least half an hour so the oats can soften (although you could even do this part the night before and leave it in the fridge until the morning). Then I add chopped strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries. Finally I sprinkle some hemp seeds, flaxseed and chia seeds over the top. It keeps me full all morning and the stinky teenager loves it too.

  • Kale and quinoa salad with dates, almonds and a citrus dressing from kitchn (I slightly adapted this and didn't use any onions or garlic. I don't think it misses them at all).

  • Summer vegetable minestrone from BBC Good Food. Quick, super healthy and stuffed full of seasonal vegetable delights. Perfect leftover food too.

  • Eton Mess. Whisk some double cream. Mash some strawberries. Crush meringues. Mix in a bowl - heaven.

Make your own Lemon Infused Olive Oil - a quick and simple way to brighten up summer salads or to use as a dip for bread. It's also a really nice way to have a quiet moment in your day. Peeling the lemons not only allows you to focus your mind on a single task but the scent is something to embrace and enjoy completely. Here's what you do:

Put 240ml of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Scrub and peel the skin from two lemons and add to the saucepan. Heat gently for about ten to fifteen minutes and don't allow the pan to boil. Remove from the heat and let the oil cool down completely in the pan. I also added a few sprigs of lemon thyme from the garden at this point as I think it's such a beautiful flavour. Remove the peel and the thyme sprigs and pop the oil in a glass jar or bottle. Store in a cool dark place to let the flavours develop.  

I'll be back soon with some camping tales and adventures to share. x