Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunshine and happiness

They say it's the small things that matter.. Today these small things are tipping my happiness scales..

1. Hot sun warming my tired limbs

2. The grasses in the meadow bending and nodding happily in the breeze

3. The smell of suncream reminding me of holidays past

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ham House

When the sun is shining and you have a few hours free (and you're in striking distance of South West London) then you couldn't do better than head for Ham House on the banks of the Thames, just beyond Richmond.  Built in the 17th century, it was the wife of Lord Lauderdale, Elizabeth Murray, who brought the gardens to life with a combination of hard work and vision.  The National Trust now have custody of both the house and garden, and I have to say that whenever I visit it always feels like a house that was once a home.  The kitchen gardens have now been restored, as has the French Parterre Garden and once you've been round the house and garden, you can have a wonderful stroll along the River Thames, either towards Teddington Lock or Richmond town.
{French garden, wisteria, back view of house}

{wildflower meadow and kitchen garden}

{lemon trees, hidden gems in the garden}

{benches and tuips}

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Words - Still and Quiet

Slow buds the pink dawn like a rose
From out night's gray and cloudy sheath;
Softly and still it grows and grows,
Petal by petal, leaf by leaf.
~Author Unknown

There is something uniquely precious about early mornings.  From time to time I go through bouts of sleeplessness and I find myself wandering the house in the early hours.  In the summer months I often take myself outside and sit in the garden and watch the dawn break and the world begin to come alive.  The air feels different and there is a tangible air of possibility that I don't feel if I wake at the normal time.  It feels like a gift to open, like a flower, petal by petal, to reveal the secret inside. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Things you didn't know about an Avocado

Over the years there has been lots of conflicting information (advice?) about avocados.  They're full of fat, bad fat, good fat.  I've always loved them and am currently enjoying a resurgence of avocado inspired dishes and if you're in any doubt about their nutritional benefits read on...

1. Protein

Avocadoes provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body because avocadoes also contain fibre.

2. Beneficial Fats

Avocadoes provide the healthy kind of fat that your body needs. Like olive oil, avocadoes boost levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). HDL cholesterol can help protect against the damage caused by free radicals. This type of cholesterol also helps regulate triglyceride levels, preventing diabetes.

3. Carotenoids

Avocadoes are an excellent source of carotenoids. Although many people associate carotenoids only with red and orange produce, avocadoes are also an excellent source of this phytonutrient. Avocadoes, also known as alligator pears, offer a diverse range of carotenoids including not only the better known ones such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein, but also lesser known varieties of this type of phytonutrient such as neoxanthin, zeaxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, neochrome, beta-cryptoxanthin and violaxanthin. Every time you consume foods rich in carotenoids, you deliver high quality vitamin A to your body, thereby protecting eye health. Carotenoids also enhance the functioning of the immune system and promote healthy functioning of the reproductive system. Since carotenoids are fat soluble, eating avocadoes optimizes the absorption of these nutrients.


The combined effect of the deluxe package of nutrients contained in avocadoes offers powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Avocadoes' unique combination of Vitamins C and E, carotenoids, selenium, zinc, phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids helps guard against inflammation. This means avocadoes can help prevent or mitigate against both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Heart Health

The fat content, which causes some uninformed health "experts" to deem avocadoes as unhealthy, actually provides protection against heart diseases. Studies have shown that oleic acid improves cardiovascular health. Oleic acid is the primary fatty acid in avocadoes. Many people now take supplements in order to consume more omega-3 fatty acids to lower their risk of heart disease. Avocadoes are rich in omega-3, delivering 160 milligrams per cup of alpha-linolenic acid.

When choosing your avocados avoid over-ripe fruits.  The skin should give slightly when gently pressed and there should be no dents in the skin.  The most nutrients are found close to the skin, so make sure you scrape this bit out to get maximum benefit.  I hope I've convinced you to eat more of this delicious fruit; my favourite start to the day is toasted sourdough with half an avocado smooshed on top, with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  For more avocado inspired dishes have a look at these:
       * Grilled avocado on toast
                        * Avocado and feta wrap

Asparagus, snap pea and avocado pasta
all images via: Martha Stewart

Friday, May 17, 2013

House Envy

I don't normally hanker after houses in the city, after all I live in one; but this one happens to be just around the corner to where I live and I certainly wouldn't mind swopping - it's the garden that really gets me...

 What a beautiful space.  I love the way the garden is reflected in the greens and creams used in the living space so that it flows seamlessly.  One day....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Words - Stop!

When I saw this last week it really resonated with me.  Why is it that we allow ourselves to be brought down by resentful and bitter people?  I guess we all want to be liked and it hurts when someone treats you badly, but hey, that's their stuff.  Not mine.  I'm going to keep this little bit of wisdom in the forefront of my mind when dealing with people that are clearly only in it for themselves...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Crossing for beginners

I first came across Book Crossing via a friend some years ago but have recently rediscovered its merits.  The premise is that you leave a book in a public place for someone else to find and read.  Each book that you 'send' out into the world on its travels has a unique code that you log on the Book Crossing site.  The person that finds the book then records it, reads it and leaves it somewhere else for someone else to find.  The book can be tracked on all its travels as long as people who find it remember to log on.  It's such a fantastic idea.  Apart from the thrill of seeing where your book has ended up, it's a great way to share books that you no longer want or need; So now I can see a way to get rid of all these...

So, what will my first book be and where shall I leave it I wonder?  Has anyone else done this and if so, what was the furthest that your book travelled? 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Just a thought...

"You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in. You are what you take from these. You are the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner. You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life. You are every single day. So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge and existence. Let the words run through your veins and let the colours fill your mind." (unknown)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Wednesday Words - Dreams

You know that time when you know you've got to make some decisions about 'life'?  Decisions that could be, will be life-changing in some form or other?  Well, I guess I'm pretty much at that point at the moment; some big career decisions to make and some big personal decisions to make too.  It's kinda exciting but scary all at the same time...For the last year or so I've been dreaming of making certain changes to my life, some of them big, some of them not so big.  Those dreams have taken on a hue of radiance that has begun to shine bigger and brighter and suddenly, those dreams are turning into possible plans...I wonder where they will lead me?
Have you turned any dreams into plans?  How did it work out?  I'd love to know...

images: source here

Friday, May 03, 2013

50 Things to do to on a bank holiday

The National Trust are worried about the number of children that are sofa-bound and addicted to computer games or the tv.  Their reponse has been to come up with a number of things that they think every child should try before they're 11 3/4.  It's a great list and whilst I was reading it I thought that actually, nevermind being a list for children, it's a great list for the child-within-the-adult.  Who's not been and had a sneaky go on the swing when no-one's looking? Or jumped in a puddle just for sheer pleasure?  Well the UK has got a long weekend coming up and even the weather's looking promising, so, off you go and indulge your inner child this weekend with some of these activities....

* Climb a tree
* Skim a stone
* Roll down a really big hill
* Dam a stream
* Make a daisy chain
* Jump over waves
* Walk on the grass barefoot
* Climb a huge hill
* Find some frogspawn
* Swim in the sea (wild swimming!)
* Cook on a campfire
* Play poo sticks

Which one will you do?  Let me know on comments or by following sazpaz1 on Twitter #fifty things.  For a full list of the activities click here.

Have fun!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May Moodboard

I love the month of May.  For me it heralds the start of warmer weather, lighter evenings and it holds a promise of things to come.  Here's some of the things I'm dreaming of doing/eating this May.

1. Pink and Pretty from Chanel
2. Mediterranean style cannelloni bean salad
3. Balcony life and  Parisian living
4.  Al-fresco eating
5. White asparagus and parma ham appetisers
6. Planting up a herb box
7. Fresh scented candles for summer
8. Soft neutrals and Like Linen by Essie
9. Laduree treats (just because we can!)