Friday, May 29, 2020 top four tips for faultless celebrations and entertaining...

I have a few go-tos when it comes to entertaining and celebrations.
Alas I am currently deprived of opportunities for pretty table settings, as home renovations continue here, but I do love the cooking.
When I was younger, I relished scouring my cookbooks to try something new.
These days, anything 'new' is usually out of my own imagination!
A case in point is this Prawn and Chorizo tray bake I came up with a while back during the early days of Covid-19 isolation.
How much easier can it get? Frozen prawns gently poached in salted water. Don't boil them. Just bring to a simmer in salted water, then switch off and put the lid on. Let them steam until pink and curled. Spread them on a tray with mouthwatering slivers of chorizo, and whatever veges you have on hand. Roast  in a moderate oven till it smells lush (the prawns are already cooked, remember). Serve with greens, or over pasta, or rice.
My favourite cake recipe is here. It's an absolute winner, and so versatile. You can omit the cocoa and add other flavours too. These are mini cupcakes with a secret filling of tinned caramel, dusted with icing sugar, and sprinkled with edible rose petals. Utterly delish, and presentation +++.

The simplest things can look fancy with a strawberry on top. This is a home made custard pot, upended into a ramekin, doused in maple syrup, and decorated prettily. House version of Crème Caramel anyone?
You can make custard with cornflour.
Here's the recipe in four sentences:
Whisk two heaped tablespoons of sugar into 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of milk, and heat on the stove or in the microwave till steaming. Mix 4 tablespoons of cornflour to a paste with a little cold milk, and add to the hot milk, whisking to combine. Heat, stirring often, till thickened. Add vanilla extract and a little yellow food colouring.
You can vary the consistency by increasing or decreasing the amount of cornflour you use. After a few batches, you'll get to know what consistency you prefer. We like them firm like little puddings.
Fruit and/or Nut clusters....gotta be happy when melting some chocolate or chocolate buttons, mixing in some dried fruit and nuts (or M&Ms or chopped jelly beans or freeze dried berries), and dropping spoonsful onto a sheet of baking paper to set, results in oohs and aahs. Decorate with cake decorating pretties if desired. Perfect as a gift or treat with coffee. And they look so appealing!
If you've got vegetables, a saucepan, and a stick mixer, you've got soup. You don't need a recipe. This one was made from the odds and ends in the refrigerator and the tops of the celery stalks, leaves and all. Just simmer everything together with some stock cubes and onion. Remove some of the liquid before blitzing with the stick mixer. You can always add it back in, but the aim is to have a nice thick soup, not a watery one. Add seasoning to taste, and swirl a bit of cream through when you serve it. Can't go wrong.

Pies are always a hit of course. Pastry was my nemesis for a long, long time. Especially once we decided to be gluten-free in support of our daughter. Then I discovered Lard and a pastry blender.
Whilst Lard is not something we'd eat every day, it makes the lightest, crispest pastry EVER. And anyway, 120gms (4 ozs) of Lard spread over 6 pies, is no worse than some of the stuff people buy and eat every day....hello McDonalds?

And this thing....this Pastry Blender, is sort of used like a potato masher to mix the shortening with the flour. The bit where you have to rub it in with your fingertips always annoyed me. Not good with repetitive tasks here. I made pastry in literally 90 seconds with it yesterday!
Here's Nannas pastry recipe in four sentences...with or without Pastry Blender!
My top tips for successful entertaining or special occasion meals.
1. Stick with what you know, served beautifully.
2. You can't go wrong with:
* a soup
* a tray bake or pies served with fresh seasonal vegetables or salad
* a favourite cake or custard based dessert.
3. Chocolate is always a winner with coffee and tea after a good meal.
4. You don't need lots of fancy equipment to make sensational food.
What are your entertaining or celebration meal go-tos?

Monday, May 25, 2020

Motherly Advice...are you prepared for the unexpected?

I think we've all learned recently, is that we are not always prepared for unexpected events in life. I am all kinds of 'prepared' in general day to day terms, but who could have prepared us for Covid-19?
A friend of mine was hospitalised recently. NOT with Covid-19 thankfully.
She's home now, but you wouldn't believe what a pressure this unexpected confinement introduced into their lives. Apart from the very obvious worry for her and her family, it transpired that she had no sleepwear suitable for public viewing being a trackpants and tshirts for pyjamas kind of girl, and no toiletries that were not currently in use by the family.
Her husband was entrusted with the task of remedying the situation, and whilst you might imagine that husbands would be good at buying their wives sleepwear, judging by how that's marketed for Mothers Day, under duress, it's not that easy. And certainly not with current restrictions on shopping with many retailers being closed!
What size, what sort of fabric, what colour, would she wear pants and tops or nightgowns, what size slippers...these were all the kinds of decisions he had to make, without the relevant information at hand.
He also had to buy toiletries of all kinds, likewise without knowing what he was doing many husbands really know our preferred toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant and so on. And of course, when you're unwell, the familiar becomes so important.
He managed, but his wallet was several hundred dollars lighter for the experience, which did not help anyones state of mind at the time.
This got me thinking that first of all, my husband would not have a clue if this were to happen to us. I have very particular taste in sleepwear, toiletries and general items of comfort, and the poor man would not know where to begin.
And secondly, with a very difficult Mothers Day coming up, given isolation and social distancing measures, could I use this idea to generate some gifts for the Mums in my life?
That list might include a handtowel in a favourite colour, with a pretty soap and body wash , like these...
Some pretty nightgowns would be absolutely essential, and I have a collection of patterns, both my own vintage ones and ones I've found on eBay or in thrift stores. Sleepwear styles do not change much from one decade to the next, and these styles remain comfortable and attractive even given their 30+ age...

Even a style like this one below, is surprisingly easy to construct, and when you're ill, it can be empowering to have a pretty nightgown...
Pharmacies always have little miniatures of toiletries available, and even samples can be a handy thing, and are given away routinely upon request in some pharmacies and department stores.
Imagine a gift that included a pretty nightgown (or two), some face washers or a handtowel, and a favourite soap, a dry shampoo and hair care items, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, hand cream, light makeup items, and all presented in a drawstring bag in a sweet print.
Pretty, useful, and welcome for anyone of any age.
I ended up assembling a kit each for my two sisters for Mothers Day. Now daughter has requested one...hopefully not in case of hospitalisation! Then I'll try to assemble one for myself.
What would you add to your emergency self-care kit?

Friday, May 22, 2020

Insourcing...a good week and my 6 kitchen essentials (they're not what you think)...

Social media has a lot to answer for in exhorting us to buy stuff sometimes.
There are groups with thousands, I mean tens of thousands of people on social media, sharing recipes for new ways to use their pie-maker, jaffle-maker, sandwich press, breadmaker, rice cooker, coffee bean grinder, Kitchen Aid, coffee machine, slow cooker, electric frypan, air fryer, benchtop grill or oven, egg boiler, pasta machine, and so on.
Me? I look at that list and think 'sooooo many appliances', and 'soooo much clutter', as well as 'sooo much storage space need'.
I nearly succumbed when an online friend shared pics of her delish looking cakes, frittatas and other assorted goodies, all cooked in her piemaker. Nearly.
But I realistically looked at the way I cook and what we eat, and decided against it.

Instead, here is what I cooked this week and last week, with nary a KMart appliance in sight.
1. First of all, this simple enamelware oblong pie dish is perfect for any baked meal or dessert. It's the right size for our family of three, and accommodates a small roast, a baked custard, a frittata or quiche, a meat or fruit pie, a meatloaf, a lasagne, baked rice pudding, bread and butter pudding, apple sponge, apple roly poly, fruit crumbles or clafoutis, and a dozen other dishes with ease. It cleans up like a dream, and takes up almost no space in my cupboard.
2. My Dutch Oven, purchased at Aldi for about a fifth of the price of a 'name' brand, easily fits four lamb shanks, a large roast, a huge gluten free brioche or cobb loaf, a mammoth casserole, a family sized potato bake, an enormous chicken, a small turkey, a ham hock or two for soup, and doubles as my slow cooker. I seared these lamb shanks at 6:30am, and threw in a quartered onion, some bay leaves, and some baby potatoes, and that's been happily simmering away in my oven on 100C (about 220F), for dinner tonight.

The same Dutch Oven cooked my end-of-week green soup for lunches earlier in the week....
No slow cooker required.

3. My Texas sized muffin pans are used for muffins, cakes, frittatas, quiches, meatballs, mini lasagnas, mini meatloaves, meringues, individual pies, baked bacon and egg, and stuffed tomatoes or potatoes. Cupcake liners keep them pristine, and make transfer from pan to fridge (or pan to mouth!), easy-peasy. Really don't need a pie maker, however much I may wish for one.

4. For big mixing tasks, I have a Sunbeam Mixmaster. No Kitchen Aid here. This works for everything I cook. It lives on my bench with it's two bowls. The beater and whisk attachments live in a drawer.
5. Individual plastic containers, allow me to portion control many things, from homemade custard and yoghurt, to snacks and desserts for work, saving money in a dozen ways.

6. Ziplock bags give me great storage options for my prepped vegetables and fruit, and anything that requires portioning and freezing. A sheet or two of paper towel inserted into them, helps absorb moisture and keeps leafy veg and soft fruit, fresher for longer. These store flat for use in my kitchen drawer. No cumbersome 'specialty' containers necessary. I'd struggle to fit a cabbage, a kilo of broccoli, a bunch of celery, a kilo of beans, and six zucchini in my refrigerator crisper. But not if I cut them up, pop them into a ziplock bag in ready-to-use portions, and put them to bed sleeping upright in the crisper drawer as seen above. Another tip here, is to always use the leafy or 'soft' veg and fruit early in the week...such as spinach, zucchini, beans, and Asian veg, and the 'hard' stuff in the latter half of the week, such as broccoli, pumpkin, celery, snow peas, beets, and carrots. Planning meals accordingly, really helps.

This week, I used all of those items, to fill my refrigerator with meals and snacks for the week ahead. I love pre-preparing this way. It saves us time, money, energy and storage space.

Everyone is different though.

What are your top kitchen essentials?


Monday, May 18, 2020

Looking after yourself in challenging times...

I made Sarah Brittons Life Changing Bread again recently.
This photo is my version. Sarah's photo and fab recipe are here....
I love it. It's gluten free, super healthy and I adore it with Macadamia Paste, which is like Peanut Butter only a zillion times better.
Strangely, this bread really does change my life every time I make it.
I love it and it's earthy flavours and texture so much, that I always feel motivated to extend the healthy living to other areas of my life.
It's heading towards Winter here, so some lifestyle compromises are necessary to avoid a scary situation after several months of hiding beneath Winter woollies.
Skin needs regular de-flaking due to the hazards of in home heating, and out of home winds, facial products need a review, and mind, body and soul are in need of maintenance due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Time for self-maintenance for a minute.
I started a week ago, first signing up for the free 7 day trial of My Fitness Pal. I'm finding it a great tool, and have happily paid for a 12 month premium subscription.
The first feature and the one I find most motivating, is the one where, once your daily food and exercise diary entry is completed, you get a prediction of what you would weigh in one month if 'every day was like today'. So a bad day yields either zero progress or a weight gain (heaven forbid!), and a good day, gives a realistic prediction for your weight loss. This really keeps me on track.
The second and a real eye-opener, was that it told me I wasn't eating enough. Yes, true. I was eating less, forcing my metabolism to slow down. Eating more (of the right things), has helped me shift some of this stubborn mid-life weight!
The third, and a really useful time saver, is that you can copy and paste the URL of any recipe on the web, into the app, and it automatically logs the meal, including kilojoules and nutritional value, into your diary.
No, My Fitness Pal are not paying me. I've just used a few of these apps, and this is the one I've personally found most useful.
So, with healthy habits and a long life expectancy as my ongoing goal,  here is my morning, 6 days a week. I give myself Sundays off:
Get up when the alarm goes off at 6am. Do not grumble..much. Have a quick shower, and dress as I normally do, in a pretty dress and cardigan. I don't see the point of 'active wear'. It depresses me. I don't sweat when I walk, so why dress in something as unflattering as active wear? Nearly give up the whole idea because I hate exercising before breakfast. Resolve to keep going now that I'm up. Drink a large glass of water. Eye off the teapot lasciviously. Eat my customary single slice of Life Changing Bread with Macadamia spread. Squint at the sun as I exit the front door. Walk briskly, swinging my arms. Stop that after ten minutes because it makes my dodgy shoulder hurt. Continue walking at a leisurely pace for 50 minutes, always surprised when I reach the front gate, because I've been off in La-La land the whole time, planning a trip to Iceland in my head. Check my phone for step counts. Note that I've only done 4,756. Walk up the hill near home and back to generate my current step goal of 5,000.
Now the bit I really like.
Once  a week, usually on the weekend, I indulge myself a little further in a DIY Korean bathing experience. This results in the silkiest, smoothest skin ever.
Get started by putting the plug in the bathtub, but don't turn the shower on, or get wet just yet.
Stand in the tub and scrub all over with DIY glycerine and raw sugar scrub, scented with Sandalwood. Glycerine and sugar make the best ever spa style body scrub. It actually sticks to you, instead of just falling off like the oil-sugar combination.You can find Glycerine in little bottles in the Medicinal aisle of your supermarket and it's under $5. I scent mine with different essential oils depending on how I feel. West Indian Lime and Sandalwood are favourites as is Jasmine Absolute or Frangipani Absolute. The 'abolutes' are a little more expensive, but totally worth it and still less expensive than a trip to a Day Spa.
To make sugar scrub, just put a few tablespoons of raw sugar in a jar or bowl, and add enough Glycerine to make it moist enough to clump together like soil. 
Turn on the shower now, and allow the tub to start filling (assuming you have one, if not, ignore this bit). Wash hair with moisturising shampoo. Condition hair with moisturising conditioner. Next shopping trip, I'm trying that Clairol Herbal Essences Coconut one just because I love the scent of it. Sit in the tub with the conditioner in hair. The tub should have a couple of inches worth of water in it by now, so soak feet and toes, and use the last of the body scrub to give self a mini pedicure. Rub the very last crumbs of the scrub into hands and nails, pushing cuticles back as you go. Cuticles will be really soft and easy to groom, due to all the lovely oil and warm water.
Cleanse your face with home made Goats Milk soap for more sublime moisturising, or use your favourite cleanser. At this point, on alternate weekends, slather face in a treatment mask, whether it be a bought one, or a pantry one of Oatmeal and yoghurt, or White Clay and Vanilla Soy Milk, and just soak for a little while. Stand up in the tub again, and use a Korean Scrubbing mitt, to exfoliate a second time. Don't be tame. Really give the skin a good going over. By this time, the mask has worked it's magic, so rinse that off, and rinse the conditioner from nicely scented hair.
Get out of shower/tub, towel off, slather yourself in moisturiser, and get dressed. Smooth hair with smoothing balm, and allow it to dry naturally.
Brush teeth to the count of 120 with Colgate Optic White toothpaste. This is one of the few commercial products I've bought that really lives up to it's reputation. Awesome stuff. Yes, I could add Hydrogen Peroxide to Baking Soda and brush with that, but come on. The penny pinching has to stop somewhere.
Enjoy a breakfast as recommended by My Fitness Pal, of another slice of Life Changing Bread, a boiled egg, a piece of fruit, 5 almonds, and a tea or coffee.
Do it all again next week.
You can buy the Korean Scrubbing Mitts inexpensively on eBay, or you can buy Korean Scrubby yarn and knit or crochet one yourself. As a bonus, you can also use this to knit pot Truth!
A truly invigorating experience, guaranteed to leave you bright eyed and bushy-tailed.

Friday, May 15, 2020 value in the home...May 2020

I may as well be up front. This post is mostly about my chandelier restorations and gratuitous blinging.
And a bit about cooking.
I've always loved chandeliers. When I was a child, my mother worked in the kitchens and function rooms of the five star hotels in our city. We as kids, would sometimes accompany her when she could not find a babysitter. We were good kids, and would sit quietly filling the salt and pepper shakers and sugar bowls for the chef.
Always, always, there were chandeliers. I adored them. And ever since, I've wanted them in my home.
It's been a long, long, loooong wait, and has taken viewing of many chandeliers, to decide my preferences.
But to my immense pride, I saved enough money to buy these French Empire Basket chandeliers, and pair of wall sconces, from a flea market in Nice, earlier this year. I had to walk past many other beautiful treasures to fund these, and that alone, just about broke my heart. But I am so thrilled with them! I had priced these over the last decade or so, and they range from $1,200- $3,000 each.
I bought these two chandeliers, and the two wall sconces behind, for 500 Euros for the lot, and about 250 Euros to post them home. 750 Euros at that time, would have been the equivalent of about $1,400 AUD. BUT, to buy these locally or online, would have cost me around 3 to 4 times that price, so I'm very pleased indeed.
Alas one of the wall sconces was broken upon arrival, and clever husband had to find a way to fix it. Mission accomplished though, and none the worse for the wear. Many crystals were also broken, and we had to source new ones locally. If you look closely above, you can see some of the octagon chains, dangling loose from their moorings.
Meanwhile, Husband was totally converted to the whole Chandelier idea by this time, and as I've mentioned a few weeks ago, we found this one below, as a total tangled mess, in a thrift store. It had two wall sconces hung on it, as the store staff thought they were part of the main chandelier.
We paid $90 for the chandelier and the two sconces.
Husband patiently untangled, repainted and reattached the crystals and we ended up with this....
But I wasn't done. Oh no, no, no.
Since we had to buy replacements for the French chandeliers, I decided we needed further bling on this one.
16 chains and maple leaf drops later... looks like this....
...happy me. are all the crystals...sigh...pretty.
And that gold spiky thing? That's one of the wall sconces we scored for well...let's say $15 each. Bereft of crystals.
And here it is now...
...not in it's final spot. It still needs replacement of the little mirror behind it too.
Next project will be to replace the acrylic drops and octagon chains on our $110 bargains from Bunnings Warehouse, seen below, with the real crystals. To buy these already with true crystals would be around $1,000.
All up, our crystal spend has been around $500 for ALL the crystals we needed.
Total spend on chandeliers and wall sconces has been $1,510.
Let's say that's a total of $2,000 over a six month period.
Total value purchased new, or online from antique dealers, around $8,000. And that's a conservative estimate.
I'm pretty chuffed with that!
Meanwhile, it's not all about crystals.
I made broccoli soup in the slow cooker. The potato gives it substance.
Why buy individual custards, when you can make them...

...and turn them out into little ramekins, pour over maple syrup, and call them Cheats Crème Caramels...

Mothers Day brownie gifts were made. This one had a base of Lindt chocolate. To buy these in an upmarket deli, would cost around $4 each. I made 24 the same size for around $8. That's a value of $96.00 for a spend of $8.00.

I packaged them like this....

..although in the past, I've also done this...

Here's that recipe:
Microwave chocolate brownie
Place 125 gms chopped butter, and 200 gms chopped dark chocolate in a large microwave proof bowl.
Microwave on medium power for 3 minutes until not quite entirely melted. Stir until smooth.

Add 1 1/4 cups soft brown sugar, 3 eggs, and 3/4 cup plain flour to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a 650ml-750 ml square microwave safe container and cover with cling wrap.

Place the container on a microwave proof rack or upended plate in the center of the microwave.
Cook on medium (500w/50%) for 6-8 minutes.

Cool in the container.

To serve dust with icing sugar.

Daughter made beetroot gnocchi. We all joked that these look more like miniature meat patties, but the were delicious nonetheless. Three serves of gourmet gnocchi at a restaurant? Around $60. Ours cost around $6.
Feta, lemon, chilli and basil pasta for lunches. Around $2 per serve to make. Around $16 per serve to buy.
Jam drops. So easy to make. Ridiculously expensive to buy.
I made 4 dozen.
Apparently that's about $52 worth.
My value in the home this month?
A very lot.
As my younger sister used to say.
About $6,500.
Happy me.
How is 2020 shaping up for you?

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Easy Peasy recipes...Cinnamon Apple Roly Poly...

It's a glorious Autumn day here today. So after a stroll through one of the lovely parks nearby with my doggie, I think I'll bake.

Autumn to me, says steamed pudding, melt in the mouth slices, cinnamon laden teacake, gingerbread that's soft and squishy and smells like my Nannas house, and pears and apples added to pastry for roly poly and crumbles.

Here's my Nanna's recipe for Cinnamon Apple Roly Poly. My house always smells like Autumn when I cook with cinnamon, and this one scents the entire house for the rest of the day :)

Cinnamon Apple Roly Poly:

1 cup Self Raising Flour (GF is fine too)
A pinch of salt
2 level tablespoons margarine or butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar (normal sugar will do) mixed with 1-2 teapoons cinnamon depending on how much you like cinnamon
2 apples, grated

Also for syrup:

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon margarine or butter

Casserole dish for baking

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Make the pastry by sifting the flour and a pinch of salt, and rubbing the margarine through with your clean fingertips. This only takes a minute or two. Add most of the water and work into a dough, using what's left of the water if you need it. Form into a ball, and roll out thinly. If this is all too much trouble, I've successfully used Wraps or Tortillas or Crepes to make a Roly Poly.

Sprinkle the pastry with the cinnamon sugar blend, and spread the grated apple evenly over the surface. Roll it up like a sushi roll, and arrange it in a circle in a well greased casserole dish.
Make the syrup by combining the water, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and bringing it to the boil, and pour this over the roll in your dish. This makes the most delectable sticky, toffee like edges on the roly poly :)

Slash some slits in the surface of the roly poly and sprinkle with a bit of extra sugar or some flaked almonds for crunch. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.

Serve hot with custard, cream or icecream.

Very yummy.

Will you enjoy this with your family?


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Motherly advice...don't wish your life away....

We spend so much of our lives, wishing we were somewhere other than where we are.

At home, we wish to be somewhere far flung and exotic. Me? I like to be somewhere where there's a grassy lawn and a lacy tent, and plump cushions upon which I can recline.

When away, we yearn fervently sometimes, for our own bed and home comforts.

When we're young, we want to be older and once we're old, we wish we were young.
When we're at work, we want to be home, and I bet right now, many of us would prefer to be somewhere other than at home. Thanks Covid-19. And whilst restrictions have now eased, we in Australia are not yet in our Winter, so the future is still an unknown.

What this may have helped some of us realise, that what we love and need for a happy life, is right under our nose. Movies have been made, songs have been written, and whole novels penned upon that premise!

I came upon some photographs of some of our holidays this morning.

There were several things that struck me upon viewing them.
Firstly, the things I enjoy viewing, and photographing, do not vary all that much. Whether home or away, I enjoy admiring a stunning sunset, I appreciate the thought, planning and sheer hard work in building and maintaining a beautiful garden, I adore the history of ornate or interesting architecture, and often file away local details in décor, to replicate upon returning home, so that a little memory of our travels is there at our fingertips.

The funny thing is, that the older I get, the more I appreciate that 'home' can offer the very same joys of far flung locations. The difference is, that when we are on vacation, we stop to enjoy the monuments, the sunsets, the detail on a building, and the unusual or thought provoking in an art gallery. I've learned, that as much as I love to travel, the experiences I seek out when travelling, are just as accessible here at home. We don't have the Eiffel Tower (although our city does have a miniature version in a café` district, so perhaps all is not lost!), but beautiful sunsets, fabulous local artisanal homewares, a gorgeous outlook from our back porch, and architecture that makes you appreciate the imagination of the women and men who've created it...they're all here.
Let's compare the sunset above, taken beneath the lacy ironwork of the Eiffel Tower... this beautiful sunset, snapped just a few months ago in the Town of 1770 on our Eastern coastline, where Captain Cook first landed in Australia. Neither one is more beautiful than the other. And a sunset can be enjoyed any day of the week that you care to stop, and contemplate.

I loved this simple window treatment in a house where we stayed in the The Perigord region in 2008 so much....

...that I completely unconsciously replicated it, albeit in a prettified, lacy version, in my daughters bedroom, right down to the floral posy...crazy! I didn't even realise I had pre-imagined the idea, until this photograph surfaced today!

As for interesting architecture, well, I can't compete with French living in The Perigord....

....but my own suburb once had it's little surprises in this elvish house just 2 minutes walk from my home....'s unfortunately now been demolished to make way for a housing development....

....sad...but alas, that is progress. The sweet little cottage with it's European detail just doesn't live up to the modern day expectations of 'home'.

This was the outlook from the back porch of a holiday house we rented once. All misty mountains and mysterious vistas....

...a walk to my own back porch, yields a view of tropical palms and Poinciana trees. Sometimes it's misty too, but not today. Is one better than the other? I don't think so. But I rarely step outside to my back porch early in the morning to admire my own back yard, whereas on vacation, I have time to do so. I think it's time to revise my morning routine to allow for that!

As for interesting architecture...well home is not a stone home in the countryside of a distant land....

....but we have interesting architecture too...

I'm working on not always wishing I was somewhere else. Not that I do that in a belligerent, 'I'd rather be anywhere but here' manner, but rather that kind of 'I can't wait to travel again', that is the basis of my savings mentality, and that yields a healthy respect for money and the freedom it can provide.
A wise person once said to me 'You can only live in one place at a time'. It seemed an obvious comment back then, and I didn't really understand what they meant. But I guess they not pine for anywhere other than where you are, for what is the point? You pine for there when you're here, and for here when you're there.
Why not just enjoy 'now', wherever you might be.
Can you find similarities between where you are right now, and where you imagine you'd like to be?
Can you summon up a little bit of Paris by serving your morning tea in fine china? Could you fancy up your morning juice with a slice of pineapple and a striped paper straw, resort style? Could you lay out your own towel and toiletries for tonight, and pretend the housemaid did it for you? Little tricks like this, can truly add to your enjoyment of the minutae of the day, and help get you past wishing your life away.

I have several chandeliers at home. This beastie was rescued in terrible condition at a thrift store for just $60. It greets me, lit up in all it's glory, each and every morning, thanks to kind husband.
They remind me of the beautiful Parisian apartment we treated ourselves to just prior to the Pandemic...

I'm also currently trying to teach myself to make Canele`, which are little French pastries with a caramelised exterior, and a custard centre. We ate them in Bordeaux, and I've not seen them since. Being able to replicate them, means I can bring a little 'Bordeaux' into our home, whenever the mood takes me. Perhaps you could do something similar.

Longer term, could you plant a corner of your garden to resemble a favourite getaway spot? Could you introduce a detail into your décor, like my rescued chandelier, that reminds you of somewhere you've stayed that generated happy memories? Can you teach yourself to cook or bake a treat, like my Canele`, that is currently only available in a distant land?
Have you visited somewhere that really spoke to your heart?

Can you replicate a little of that this week at home?