Juicing in January

It’s time to stop the sherry trifle breakfasts or cheese and crackers with a Belgian chocolate chaser of an evening. A determination to get fit, join a gym, run more and eat more healthily is the stuff of the infant days of the year. I am a great fan of juices and smoothies but the start of term is often frantic and shopping specifically for a juice cleanse alongside feeding a family of five carnivores, vegetarians and vegans is a step too far.

So I treated myself to a five day juice cleanse from Hanna Sillitoe – all ready made.

It’s a bit of an extravagance but the odd treat does you good.

I first came across Hanna’s book and blog about 18 months ago when searching for dairy free recipes to heal a flare up of psoriasis. Since then she has appeared  on Dragon’s Den, securing offers from all of the dragons to launch a new range of products. Check Hanna out. She knows her stuff, is inspirational and a jolly lovely person into the bargain.

Yesterday a chilled box arrived stuffed full of delicious juices for the next five days. No work, no stress and packed with the kind of goodness I need to get through the start of the new term. Admittedly by Friday afternoon my year 9 class may find me a teeny bit grumpy as I’ve avoided coffee, Christmas cake and the temptation of the biscuit barrel in the staffroom for the umpeeth time.

And I’ll be smug.

Oh so smug.

Mindfulness and the beauty in winter

Picture shared by Dominic O’Connor

It’s the start of January and I drove to work in the dark and home in the drizzle. My timeline is full of comments from those suffering post-Christmas blues. For many deep Winter is a challenging time. Many of the labels we attach to Winter are negative ones – depressing, lifeless, cold, miserable – and yet there is beauty in every season if you look for it.

The moon poking through the clouds; a deer darting across a field; candlelight; firelight; snowdrops poking up through the brown soil, the glimmer of occasional low sun in the late afternoon and the pattern of moss on a tree.

Practice mindfulness and January has its beauties.

Woodpiles, fire and hunkering down in January


There’s something very satisfying about a full log store at the beginning of January. I’ve blogged about fire wood at this time of year before. It’s an annual experience. We had a load of kiln-dried firewood delivered on 2nd from Top Grade Logs in Bathford. When the weather turns wild and we’re all home for the evening,  we can put on our pyjamas, light the fire and hunker down, albeit with marking, homework or A Level mock exam revision to do. It will go some way towards making up for the lack of tree lights in the front garden and the loss of the Christmas tree in the kitchen.

I might buy some fairy lights for my classroom at a post-Christmas knockdown price. I’d install a wood burner if I could but I don’t think it would go down too well with the lady in charge of health and safety at school. She tolerates my penchant for houseplants and seed propagation. Some twinkly light in January is just the job.

Stepping into January

 So have you started off the year with all sorts of good intentions – less alcohol and cake, more fruit ,veg and exercise? New hobbies taken up; old habits dropped? I ought to be determined to blog more regularly and I will try. I have to admit I rarely make resolutions but January is a good time for reflection, taking stock and making a few changes.

Whilst looking through my old Latin texbooks with one of the children recently we came across this picture of Janus, God of beginnings and endings, doorways. and economic enterprises.  I like the idea of looking back over the old year and forward to the next; maybe even pondering a few money making enterprises. Despite the appalling weather and post Christmas empty pockets I have never regarded January as a really depressing month.

January is the month for Marmalade making now that the shops and markets are stocking sevilles. I like their relatively short season, getting together with a few friends to chop and chat and restocking the pantry shelves.

I like sitting by the log fire pondering the seed catalogues and planning out what to do in the garden.

I like to see the beginnings of spring in front gardens  on the walk home from school even though I’m battling with a brolly most days.

I like making soup for lunch and eating it with a good book propped up in front of me.

And as we’ll never give up cake in this house I have embraced my inner 1950s mama wholeheartedly and reintroduced a proper Sunday tea with the best china and candles. Currently this precedes the fabulous new adaptation of Just William on CBBC and warms us up after the trials of supporting  Bradford on Avon Town Under 10s. 

On the healthy eating front, I am nothing if not sneaky in my attempts to get more vegetables inside my little darlings’ tums and the unexpected present of this book has given me a few ideas in the cake department.I used up the leftover Sevilles on St Clement’s cupcakes. last week. They’re easy and delicious and your family will never know about the secret ingredients.

Whizz up 3 eggs with 160g of caster sugar for 5 minutes. Stir in 200g finely grated butternut squash (yes, really!), finely grated rind of 2 seville oranges and 2 knobbly unwaxed lemons, 50g ground almonds, 2 tablespoons baking powder, pinch of salt and 150g rice flour (available at Waitrose among other places). Give it all a whizz for another minute and fill 12 muffin cases about 4/5 full. Bake in the oven at 180 C for half an hour.  When cool, ice with 200g icing sugar to which you have added 2 tablespoons of mixed orange and lemon juice. (About twice as much orange to lemon is best.)

Go on I dare you to give these a try.

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