Swan Song

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There are big changes coming in the Simplicity household. I’m not 100% sure what form they will take or even when they will happen, but the changes will happen, at the moment they are like shadows waiting to be thrown into focus.

For almost two years now we have been planning a trip to take our Son to Florida. One thing we know is that our time is limited when it comes to family holidays, in a few short years we will be redundant and his friends will take our place as his travelling companions.

So before he gets too old (and embarrassed!) to want to go on holiday with his folks we wanted to take a trip to give him lasting memories of family holidays and very soon we shall be embarking on our journey.

But the title of this post doesn’t refer to this as I’m sure there will still be many more chances for us to holiday together, albeit on a smaller scale, it refers to what comes next.

To us this holiday is symbolic of a lifestyle that we are leaving behind, it will be our own personal swan song.

Progress in the vegetable garden

Let me start by saying that I have the best husband ever (ok, so I might be slightly biased on that one 🙂 ).

Remember the shed that I included on my vegetable garden plans? Well it’s finished, built single-handedly by the previously mentioned wonderful Mr S.

At last no more hunting around the garden looking for my tools as they now have a home of their own.

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Elsewhere in the garden everything else seems to be making a late appearance this year as the wet start to the summer delayed progress. Unfortunately our apples and plums are virtually non existent as the rain stopped the bees pollinating early in the season but we do have a glut of beetroot and courgettes!

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These are a few of my favourite things……

“Buy me diamonds and rubies
I’m crazy bout Bentley’s
Gucci dresses and drop top kompressors
Wine me and dine me
Bring those platinum rings
Those are a few of our favourite things”

– Big Brovaz, Favourite Things

It saddens me that nowadays many people think that the higher the price tag the better something must be. Interestingly it’s thought that the things you own with the highest material value are often not the things that add the most value to your life.

So just for the record here are a few of my favourite things………

  • My family –  I’m lucky to have such a close family both in terms of relationships and distance. We get together a lot as my Mum, Dad, Grandmother, Sister, Brother in law and Nephews all live within walking distance.
  • The view from our house – It never fails to cheer me up, whatever the time of year, in sun or snow all I have to do is take a few moments to take in the view and I’m happy
  • My cat – my old lovely lady of a cat has been my companion for 14 years. I love my cat and she loves me 🙂
  • Discovery – By nature I’m inquisitive and I love finding out about things. People, places, ideas – you name it I love to discover, whether by reading or experiencing directly.
  • Being near the ocean – The sight, the sound, the smell, the touch, the taste. Being near the ocean awakens all of the senses.
  • Laughter  – you can’t beat a good old belly laugh can you?

These some of the things in life that make me happy, really happy. The best thing about these things though is that they aren’t really “things”at all

What about you? What are your favourite things?

Easy Orange Wine Recipe

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Thanks to Mr S there is now one area in our lives that we are completely self sufficient! Over past few months he has been in a brewing frenzy. Buckets, bottles and demijohns seem to be taking over our kitchen so last night as a reward for putting up with his brewing equipment taking over the kitchen space he presented me with a bottle from his first batch of orange wine.

Here’s the recipe he used – it should provide you with 6 bottles of dry white wine with a slight citrus flavour, cheers!

Here’s what you need to make 1 gallon of Orange Wine

1 litre White Grape Juice

1 litre Orange Juice, no bits, budget brands are fine but so is freshly squeezed

800g Sugar

1 tsp Pectolase

Tannin – 1/2 teaspoon or, make a mug of strong black tea and let it cool

1 tsp Glycerine (optional) -Glycerine gives body and mouth feel to the wine and makes it smooth

Yeast & Nutrient – You can buy the sachets of yeast or, pots which you would only use a teaspoon for this recipe. Not sure if the nutrient varies between brands but this brand uses 2 tablets crushed

Campden tablets – guard against infection and oxidation, you should use one per gallon whenever you rack your wine. Crush it to a powder between two teaspoons.

Potassium Sorbate or ‘Wine Stabiliser’ -This makes sure that no yeast can reproduce (this happens if there is any sugar left in or added to the wine)

Equipment

2 x gallon demijohns or, you could use 2 x 5 litre water bottles with a hole drilled for the bung

Airlock and rubber bung

Hydrometer and trial jar

Measuring spoons

Funnel

Meat baster (easy way of getting a wine sample out of the demijohn)

Thermometer

A syphon tube with a rigid plastic ‘racking cane’ and sediment cup

**All equipment must be cleaned and sterilised first **

Method

Boil around a litre of water and leave to cool (You will need this later)

Dissolve the sugar in 500ml water. It doesn’t have to reach boiling point but, will need to cool before putting in the demijohn

Pour the fruit juices into the demijohn

Add the sugar syrup, glycerine if using and tannin

Top up with the cooled boiled water to the bottom of the shoulder. (It seems like a large space but, initial fermentation can be vigorous, better to have a large space than it bubble over onto the floor)

Put your well washed hand over the neck of the jar and give it a good shake to mix everything up and to get some air into the must.

Check the temperature. If it’s around 25°C (give or take a bit), add your yeast, nutrient and pectolase. Cover and shake it again.

Fit the bung with airlock and put the demijohn somewhere out of direct sunlight, ideally with a fairly stable room temperature in the region of 17-20°C.

Now all you have to do is wait for fermentation to stop which can be anything from 1 to 4 weeks.

Racking

*Clean and sterilise all equipment*

Crush 1 campden tablet into the receiving demijohn then syphon

Put a well washed hand over the neck of this jar and give a gentle shake, ease palm away to release any fizz. Keep shaking and releasing until there’s hardly any fizz.

Add the potassium sorbate (wine stabiliser) as per brand instructions. (this will stop any yeast reactivating especially as you may need to back sweeten)

If needed, sweeten to taste using cooled sugar syrup then top up to neck with cooled boiled water.

Either use finings which will clear the wine quickly or, leave to clear of its own accord (this could take another couple of weeks) then bottle.

The wine can be drunk straight away but benefits from being left to mature.

Enjoying life’s simple pleasures in Norfolk

Last week Summer finally arrived in the UK and by perfect coincidence we had planned to spend the week in our caravan. I love spending time in the caravan, the time we spend in it gives us the opportunity to get back to basics – life seems much easier when we only have room for essentials and aren’t distracted by the rest of our belongings.

Our destination this time was the heart of the Norfolk Broads, in my opinion the perfect place for us to embrace some of life’s simple pleasures…….

Sitting on deserted beaches and spotting seals watching us amongst the waves.

Preparing and eating simple but delicious meals ‘al fresco’

Enjoying the solitude of the Broads at dusk from our canoe.

Watching kingfishers skirt above the water, their iridescence catching in the sunshine.

Sitting, appreciating the warmth of the sun on our faces just watching the world go by.

The feeling of bare toes in soft warm sand.

Lazy unhurried mornings……..and afternoons and evenings.

 

These were some of the simple pleasures that we enjoyed last week. How about you? What are your favourite simple pleasures?