Saturday breakfast deliciousness

This is a good day already.  I made myself a bowl of happiness to kick start what is going to be 24 hours of very messy smiles, dancing, drinking and catching up with family and friends.

And, it’s Grandad’s 89th birthday! Happy birthday Grandad!

My favourite human

My favourite human

So, I present to you my BulgarWheat-Quinoa-Oat-CoconutMilk-Honey-Lavender-Cranberry PORRIDGE!  A big ol’ bowl filled with creamy, sweet yum (which is more like pudding for breakfast, than healthy for breakfast).

Breakfast!

Pretty colours to guarantee a smile :)

Delicious treat ingredients:

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Coconut milk (super bargain!)  

Bulgar wheat and quinoa mix (no Tesco publicity intended.  Sainos do a perfectly good mix too.)

Bulgar wheat and quinoa mix (no Tesco publicity intended. Sainos do a perfectly good mix too.)

Cranberries

Cranberries

Honey

Honey

Lavender from Grandma Williams' garden

Lavender from Grandma Williams’ garden

How to make these delicious treats:

  1. Measure your desired amount of quinoa and bulgar wheat mix, and a splash of oats if you wish, into a pan.  Then pour the right-ish amount of coconut milk over the top.  I am incredibly lazy and never ever measure.  If it starts to look too runny, add more oats/quinoa; if it starts looking too thick, add more coconut milk.  Eeeeez-eh.
  2. Cook on a low heat for 20-ish minutes, until the connection starts to resemble thick, creamy porridge.  Stir the whole time, or you will end up with a washing up nightmare.  Ain’t nobody got time for dat.
  3. Pour your yum into a bowl.  The prettier the better.
  4. Add a generous spoonful of honey, a handful of cranberries and sprigs of lavender on the top.
  5. Eat.
  6. Smile.

Clearly, you can add whatever you like on the top, but this is just what we had in the cupboard (because we cannot be bothered to go shopping).  I think blackberries would also be a yum option, but hurry hurry!  They are on the turn and you will not be able to pick them in the hedgerows for much longer.

I hope you have a beautiful Saturday!

Love ya,

Jo

Lovechock

Seeing as I am a self confessed chocoholic, but also a wannabe healthy human, I have been battling huge standoffs between carrots and Cadburys, and have been finding it increasingly hard to stay away from the brown stuff.  Because it is good.  Because it nurtures my soul.  Because it speaks to me in languages only my heart understands.

And then, voila, like a gift from the Gods, Instagram guided me towards Lovechock, and it was fabulous.  Raw chocolate, with no sugar; milk, soy and gluten free; certified healthy credentials; eco-friendly and fair-trade?! Urm, yes please.  Get in my greedy little mits.

Okay, I am an absolute sucker for packaging and this little bundle of joy serves to do nothing but make you smile.  The bright, swirly designs might make you think you’re being naughty, but even the ink is organic.  Under the cardboard outer, the chocolate is wrapped in a compostable foil, which you could put on your compost heap along with your carrot peelings if you so wished.

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I will not describe to you the joyous pleasure of eating this deliciousness, as I could not do it justice.  To put it simply, I love dark chocolate and there is not an exception here.  It is beautiful.

‘Happiness Inside’ is what my little brown box told me, and inside revealed that Cacao was the ‘food of love’.  I want to be happy and I want to love.  Full stop.  This is medicine, not a treat.

A letter of thanks to my Mother

To my darling Mum,

Where to begin?  One whole year has passed since I got to talk to you last.  A whole year since you told me to “stop being annoying” whilst I clambered all over your bed, and a whole year since we had naughty lines of chocolate together.  A year since you plaited my hair for the last time, and since you last watched an episode of Holby City.  It feels like yesterday that you laughed at me because I was training for a half marathon, yet here I am a year later, having not heeded any of your warnings about arthritis in my knees, training for another half marathon, but this time in your name.

You are beautiful.  Easter 2013.

You are beautiful. Easter 2013.

And, in only one year, it seems as though everything has changed.  I am not the same person you left standing at your bedside.  Our family are not the same wild things they always were (Dad learned to cook – and rather well, too!).  But you will always remain the same.  Forever you will be wonderful.  Not one breath of time can corrupt the darling memories of you in our hearts, and that is truly fabulous.

You and Dad in Innsbruck.

You and Dad in Innsbruck.

When you left, everybody told me how sorry they were for losing you.  But, they are wrong!  I don’t recall ever having lost you last year – not like that time I lost you in Homebase when I was six and hid in the cement section crying, waiting for you to come and find me.  No, we didn’t lose you; we couldn’t mislay something so precious as you.

Reppin' the 1998 cool

Reppin’ the 1998 cool

And how could you possibly be lost when I see you so clearly about me in everything I do?  What those people don’t know is that the reason I don’t wear makeup is because you told me it was pointless.  And that the perfume I wear religiously every day smells of you.  You are there when I wake up and eat weetabix, and when I climb into bed at night with a good book.  It is because of you that I have such a profound respect of diamonds, and that I wear sunscreen every day for fear of damaging the good skin genetics which you gave me.  I treasure the fact that you taught me that it is okay for women to drink pints of beer, and how to always get what you want in the end, without stamping your foot.  Even my dissertation oozes your personality – Greek Mythology and poetry – you introduced me to that world of wonder first.

Gal pals

Gal pals

I want to thank you Muma bear on this anniversary of me seeing you last, for always being a shining light in a very confusing world.  Thank you for your excellent taste in music so that I may have a soundtrack to see me through the very many uphills of life.  Thank you for not caring about fashion so that I could see past the superficiality of our contemporary world.  Thank you for being so naturally beautiful so that I may always be content in my own skin.  Thank you for the painstaking cooking lessons and onion chopping masterclasses (I will never be able to recreate your olive bread).  Thank you for your never ending kindness and good humour so that I can remember in my brattish strops what I should really be doing.  Thank you for putting every human on this planet before yourself and protecting us with your love.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Even though you are not here with me, every day you continue to teach me something new; I am only sorry that I didn’t listen to you sooner because life would have been a lot easier.  You will be glad to know that I now understand your love of torrential summer rain.  Feeling warm raindrops splash against your face and neck and arms and clothes and legs, and not caring about how wet you are getting, is great.  Even better is that I have also discovered your food-shopping-whilst-the-world-cup-is-on trick – AMAZING! You are a genius!  And you are right, England are pants at football anyway – there’s no need to watch it.

Holiday fun.

Holiday fun.

My only request in this coming year is that you never stop teaching me new things.  You were right about everything (annoying as it is to admit), and your advice would go down a treat when we don’t know how to work the boiler in our new  house, or when I’ve broken six consecutive needles in your sewing machine in under half an hour, or when I’m poorly sick and need some magic medicines only Mums know the recipe to.

But, most of all, thank you for telling my stroppy ten year old self, who was annoyed with her siblings and wanted to go to boarding school, that although you couldn’t pick your family, you should cherish them with all you possess, for one day you will need them more than the air that you breathe.  You couldn’t have predicted a truer future.

You are the best things.

You are the best things

I miss you.

Love,

JJ

 

Good genes run in the family.

Good genes run in the family.

 

Seeing in 2013 together.

Seeing in 2013 together.

Cheers Emily

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Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Keep on running

If you hadn’t already guessed from my Instagram photos, I’m running a half marathon in 2 weeks. No doubt it will be rather fun and I am enjoying the training immensely (although there are more hills than you can shake a stick at). Every day, there is some new, shiny wonder of nature to be discovered and marvelled at, which is the very reason I love running in the first place.

But my second reason for my love of putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over, is that it is instantly grounding and puts life into perspective. Your feet hurt, and so then your brain doesn’t hurt quite so much in comparison. You are really thirsty, so your burning desire for chocolate melts away. Simple. All those problems you had five minutes ago? Yeah, they’ve run away with your chocolate cravings and brain pain, too.

I run for me. I run because it makes me feel happier and brighter and shinier, and who doesn’t want to be a shinier version of themselves? Who doesn’t want to escape from who they have to be day-in day-out? Goodbye real life, you can be really pants sometimes.

On the 21st September, I will be running around Reigate for St Catherine’s Hospice in order to raise money, awareness and remember my wonderful Mother. I could not be more excited and proud to do so. For one day only, I will not be running away from the things that scare me, but I will be running in their name, hollering and screaming from the lofty heights of the North Downs that something bad happened. Something bad happened and it hurts loads but running away made it better and running back again made it even better and oh-my-goodness isn’t the world beautiful.

Please find it in your heart to read about the amazing things St Catherine’s Hospice, and every hospice on this planet, do for our community, and communities across the world, and remember that they only manage to fund it from donations from the general public.  You have already helped me raise so much – I cannot stop thanking you.

https://www.justgiving.com/Joanna-Ford4/

 

Running fings wot make me go faster

Running fings wot make me go faster

Spätzle

When we went to Austria at the weekend I ordered my one of favourite Tirolean dishes; Spinatspätzle with cheese and onions.  Which is essentially southern German/Austrian spinach pasta (everybody argues about who made it first…), with a lot of cheese and some fried onions.  If you are really lucky, you might get some tomatoes thrown in there, too.  

Spinatspätzle in all its glory

Spinatspätzle in all its glory

 

Greedy guts

Greedy guts

I would very strongly recommend optimising this experience by talking a long walk through the forest first, drinking water from trickling springs, stopping at a local farm for a beer, then eating your Spätzle at the most wholesome looking Gasthof you can find.  The more taxidermy the better.  If you round it all off with some Marillien-Schnapps you are laughing – I can guarantee you will be smiling for days and have rosy cheeks to boot.

Marillen Schnapps (apricot)

Marillen Schnapps (apricot)

Forests + Beer + Rivers + Spätzle + Schnapps + Taxidermy = A happy wholesome human

Boys are silly.

Sam (boyfriend) flew to Germany to jump in on our adventures, the week before last. He jumped straight into a beer flavoured dream, and then rounded his first evening off drinking Jägermeiser and singing Robbie Williams in a bar full of locals, of course.

We decided to spend his first Saturday here climbing to Vest Oberhaus, a cloister which hangs precariously on cliffs over Passau overlooking the rivers Donau (Danube) and Ilz, which coincidentally also has a beautiful beer garden with stunning views over the valley.

Having already stumbled into a very swanky looking wedding in the Cathedral, we then attempted to gatecrash their reception, as it was being held in aforementioned beer garden/staggeringly beautiful restaurant. The sun was shining and there were big smiles all round as we toasted our jammy git luck.

But, we shouldn’t have counted out chickens too soon as Ford fortune quickly reared it’s ugly head. It was genuinely as if Zeus himself had sent billowing black clouds our way – they swallowed the valley horror film style and everything was suddenly very quiets.

Torrents. Literally torrents of rain pelted down, and the Sams decided that that was a great point in time to prove their manliness and play “who can be British for longest?” Which meant that they sat ‘enjoying’ the rain, drinking their watered down beers and being laughed at by all the wedding guests sipping their champagne.

I was sensible and stayed under the big umbrella which housed all the normal people who didn’t want watered down beer or a cold.

Sam (boyfriend) was very ill for two days after that. I had no sympathy.

Stupid boys.

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Hugo: How to make a beautiful drink of dreams

My favourite drink in Germany is called a Hugo; it is light, very refreshing, looks good on the table, and both men and women drink it in abundance, which is always great by me.

Hey Hugo, I love ya

Hey Hugo, I love ya

One website even goes so far as to say, “a party without Hugo is no party at all”,  (Okay Germany, I’m not going to go that far – a party without gin, however… ).  But it has all the right ingredients to put a smile on even the most miserable of face.  It is like a Mojito had a baby with Prosecco and named it Elderflower.  Excellent all round.

Ingredients:

150 ml Prosecco (…or whatever.  The more the merrier)

2 cl of Elderflower cordial or liqueur (A schlug of St Germain will work wonders)

A few mint leaves

100 ml of sparkling water

1 lime

Ice

It does not require rocket science to prepare this drink.  You need to first slice the lime into segments, however you please.  Place the lime into a large wine glass, or glass of choice.  An old jam jar will also serve the same purpose on the cheap and make you look cool – two birds, one stone and all that. Put the ice and mint into the same glass.  You can muddle the lime if you like, but it depends on personal preference.  Then add the elderflower, prosecco and water,

You may not drink this drink unless you pretend you are somewhere in Europe, so don your sunglasses, converse, indoor scarves and man bags please.

You can thank me later.

Love ya!

Jo

 

Walls

Today, I hit a big, fat, and ugly language learning wall.

For people who may not know me, I will tell you my language learning life history in three words; I HATE IT.  And, dear reader, you ask me why I continue year after year to do something I loathe? Because I can, and I am stubborn, and I refuse to give up just because it is hard.  Although, right now, I would trade my right arm to be able to wake up tomorrow having mastered the German language fully.

As I have previously explained to many people, language learning is like nurturing a challenging relationship (see here), and its love-hate highs and lows can be absolutely exhausting.  It can take you to places you never thought could exist, and then leave you cold and lonely the next minute wondering where all the fun went.  That is how I felt today whilst learning about Nominalisation of verbs in a eye wateringly bright classroom at unthinkable O’Clock, reminiscing about the good times old German and I had at the weekend, (he took me to a beer festival – woohoo!).  It dawned on me that, just as I thought I was getting to grips with this whole German language thing, a whole unchartered land of linguistic misfortune was laying before me, and in order to get to my promised pot of gold, my degree amongst other things, I must first first fling myself headlong into a wall entirely made up of Duden dictionaries and SOS grammar books.

Not exactly an appealing prospect, but nevertheless, a necessary one.

Everybody has their walls, their boundaries that need to be scrambled over by hook or by crook.  People say that if we do, we will be stronger/wiser/unbeatable, or any other ambiguous positive word that is meant to encourage the weaker ones.  But what if we are the weaker one?  What if when we look at that big ole barrier standing between us and our goal, we stand and shudder, then procrastinate, then cry, then try to crawl our way around it by any means other than doing what we actually need to do; go over the bloody thing.  What do we do then?  I think I speak for many when I say that no amount of Instagram searches,(#motivation/#quoteoftheday/#getmeoffinstagramimgoingtofailmydegree)

will actually help you get to the place you need to be in.

When I am running, I find it easier to block out the devil sitting on my shoulder telling me that it would be far nicer to go home and to bed than carry on another 10km, and I can ignore the blood blisters forming on my toes.  You know that with every uphill climb, there will be a blissful descent waiting for you to breeze down.  The rewards are immediate, the results are addictive.  I suppose that is the reason that I continue, or why anyone continues to do anything; the present at the end feels fantastic.

So, I assume this is the beginning of a new journey for me.  One by which the main form of travel will be crawling, or scraping my bum along the floor like an awkward Ringo dog. And my reward will be… Self satisfaction? A new found love of translation? A decent job?  I don’t know.  

Feel free to send you favourite motivational quotes this way; the cheesier the better.  Us weaker ones need all the help we can get (or a cocktail to numb the pain).

Love,

Jo

Raspberry Hugo - a great motivator in times of need

Raspberry Hugo – a great motivator in times of need