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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Travel: Auld lang Syne from Edinburgh

While quite a bit of the UK has been under snow over the past few days, we've been experiencing beautiful crisp wintry days up here in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Life: Glad Tidings of Great Joy (or Sending My Christmas Wishes Out into the Ether)

This year has been a hard one on a global scale; at times it seemed as if the world was suffering new disasters on a daily basis (it still is) so  it's been really nice for me to escape to this little part of the internet. For all of you who took the time to comment on my posts, thank you. I really do appreciate you taking the time to do so.




It's getting really busy here at chez Buttercup, the littlies are beyond excited and the puppy is very confused as to what's happening. We're enjoying all the fun stuff that Christmas brings and are really looking forward to catching up with our nearest and dearest over the next few weeks. I'll be posting when I can so do stop by.

Have a happy Christmas filled with every good thing,
Clementine.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Life: Five Life-Changing Steps to Happiness this Christmas

My usual way of getting into the Festive spirit is normally as follows: Buy and decorate tree; buy and wrap gifts; gluhwein at the German market; watch Love Actually; plan Xmas menu and become stressed beyond belief trying to figure out how I'm going to do it all!

This year however, I decided to be kinder to myself and made it my goal to remain as relaxed through December as I could. Christmas is now just under a week away and I can now happily report that I am far happier and relaxed than I was when I started. Here's what I've been doing since about late November.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Food: Apple, Blackberry and Blueberry Crumble (Gluten-Free)

I've been enjoying cooking some traditional puddings over the past few weeks and since it's been such a hit with the littlies, have been making Apple, Blackberry and Blueberry Crumble at least once a week. Probably not completely virtuous but at least it contains fruit!



Gluten-Free Apple, Blackberry and Blueberry crumble

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Food: Lamb Shank with Port and Prunes

There's something about the autumn that makes me turn to slow-cooking. Perhaps it's the fact that the oven being on for a few hours keeps the house quite toasty, or perhaps it's because I find myself spending more time indoors and enjoy the lovely aromas drifting from the kitchen?

Slow cooked Lamb Shank with Port and Prunes

Friday, 28 November 2014

Running: Getting Back on that Horse - Running Post-Injury

After 7 months of not being able to run, I can happily say that I've finally gotten over my injury. I had no idea that it would take so long before I'd once again be able to don my running shoes and let me tell you, that first run felt fantastic!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Life: Sleeping Aids (or How I Travel to the Land of Nod)

My journey to the land of nod is often delayed by the myriad thoughts bustling through my brain. I've found, however than there are a few things I can use to make my journey smoother, which help me to have a good night's sleep.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Travel: Visiting Cambodia (on the Trail of Lara Croft)

Have you ever looked at the pictures you've taken of travels past and been amazed at the wonders your eyes have seen? I have and none more so than when I look at my photos of Cambodia. My trip to Cambodia was a brief one and centred on the magnificent temples surrounding Siem Reap. We hired a tuk-tuk with driver over 5 days and travelled between the temples, sometimes visiting the ones we loved more than once.

The most majestic of them all was of course Angkor Wat. We visited each day we were there, simply because the sun setting over Angkor Wat was an amazing experience, despite sharing said experience with countless others. During the day, however, it was quieter and it seemed as if nowhere was out of bounds. We were able to explore the compound in detail and even found quiet courtyards which seemed to be made for reflection. The fact that this was still a working monastery with the occasional waft of incense, swish of saffron robes or sound of chanting made the experience even more special.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Travel: A Boat up the Mekong Delta

When my days seem to be moving way to fast I sometimes revisit one of my calmer memories, a boat journey up the Mekong Delta.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Food: Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup

I've been on a bit of a pumpkin binge lately and as a result decided to enjoy some pumpkin soup and a particularly dreary day. Again I opted for some roasted pumpkin for sweetness, added some sweet potato for the same reason and then popped in a bit of red lentils to bulk it up a bit. We loved the results and ate it with some warmed naan bread.

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Food: Pumpkin Fritters

Occasionally I'll get a hankering for something that really reminds me of my childhood. I'm also keen to introduce the littlies to some of the traditions from my childhood and one of these was pumpkin fritters in the autumn.

Halloween pumpkin doesn't seem to have a very strong pumpkinny flavour, so for my recipe, I decided to roast the pumpkin flesh from our jack o' lantern. This gave the pumpkin a lovely sweetness which really adds to the flavour of the fritter.

South African -Style Pumpkin Fritters

Friday, 31 October 2014

Craft: Last Minute Halloween Costumes for Kids

I enjoy doing the occasional craft project but when it comes to costumes I generally buy the lightweight kind that one can find in the shops. Sometimes, though, the littlies come up with costume ideas that are impossible to find and I am forced to nip to the haberdashery and haul out my trusty sewing machine. Here are two quick and easy costumes that I found on Pinterest and was able to make very quickly. I am by no means a sewing expert - I only did sewing for one year at school when I was 13 years old -  so if I can do it, I imagine most people should be able to make these too!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Travel: A Weekend in Bangkok

Bangkok is a fantastic gateway city to the rest of South-East Asia and I'd recommend spending a few days here after a long-haul flight, before heading off to explore the rest of the region. I like to think of Bangkok as South-East Asia-lite. Buddhism and the Thai way of life are easy to access and it's easy to unwind here despite finding yourself in a bustling city.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Food: Gluten-Free Pancakes

Pancakes or crepes are a popular choice for brunch in our household. Occasionally guests require us to make a gluten-free version which is when this recipe from the Doves Farm website comes in so handy, however, I prefer to cook pancakes in butter as I think this adds to the taste.



This recipe requires the Dove Farm Plain Gluten-Free Flour which I can't recommend enough. It's a store cupboard basic for us and I find myself reaching for it more and more. The pancakes are a huge hit despite being gluten-free, in fact the littlies call them "the best pancakes ever", especially when we serve them with their fillings of choice- raspberry jam or cheddar cheese!

Clementine.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Life: New Puppy and Haul

I've been pretty busy over the past few days as we've welcomed our new puppy into the household. We'd been deliberating over getting a pet for ages and after browsing the pets4homes site one too many times, we made a few calls and went to see some puppies. Fatal flaw because as it turns out, I was smitten as soon as a puppy crept over and fell asleep in my arms.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Food: Fusilli with Blue Cheese and Mushrooms Sauce

The way to my heart is definitely through my stomach. What can I say? I'm greedy? Pasta with Blue Cheese and Mushroom Sauce was the first meal my lovely husband cooked for me many moons ago and it's a meal we return to every year as the weather turns cooler.

Pasta Sauce with Blue Cheese and Mushrooms

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Travel: Take Me Back to Cuba

I've often planned trips purely on a whim, and Cuba was one such trip. We flew into Havana where we stayed in a casa particular (B&B), and were met with fading grandeur. This gave us a bit of an insight into the lives of the local people but we really wished that we could speak Spanish so that we could really pry into what living in Cuba was really like.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Food: White Chocolate Rice Crispie Cakes

The littlies enjoy a snack in the afternoons and while these aren't the healthiest I like that they are gluten-free. Everything in moderation, I say! The only problem is stopping myself from munching my way through these before they get to them! Great for a kids party too.

White Chocolate Rice Crispie Treats Kids Bakes

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Travel: Beautiful Scotland

I am so lucky to call Scotland home. I arrived over a decade ago as a graduate student and immediately felt as I belonged.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Food: Whole Grain Salad

In my attempt to eat my 5-a-day I've increasingly been turning to salads for lunch as this is a quick and easy way of packing in the fruit and vegetables. This is also a lunch that can be made with whatever you find left over in your fridge, and while being healthy, is also very tasty.

For the whole grains I tend to buy pre-packed grains that can be heated in the microwave oven in a minute or cold rice from the fridge. My favourites are the Merchant Gourmet Red and White Quinoa or Mixed Grains.

Bulghur Wheat Quinoa Salad

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Travel: Travel writing - Food Memoirs

My two great passions in life are travel and food and as a result, I love reading food memoirs, especially those with an element of travel. I often feel that I can understand a person more if I know what they like to eat. My holiday reading always includes  a book set in the place I will be visiting, and if that book includes food, all the better. Here are a few recommendations:

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Life: Keeping my Head in a Good Place

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed when life throws something unexpected at you. I am guilty of this and have been finding it increasingly hard to stay on an even keel when I am stressed. I've realised just how much I was relying on running to keep my stress at bay. My injury is slowly healing but running is still vetoed by my physiotherapist, so I've had to turn to other methods to keep my head in a good place.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Travel: My Favourite Travel Blogs

I love travelling but wouldn't like to live a nomadic life. My internet browser history however betrays the fact that I am a bit of a virtual nomad. Some of our most exotic holidays have been booked on a whim and although I've slowed down a wee bit since the littlies have arrived, this doesn't stop me from living vicariously through the travel blogs that I follow. These are a few of my favourites:

Friday, 5 September 2014

Travel: Memories of Tibet

Lhasa, Tibet. Even the name evokes images of somewhere mythical. This was a trip we'd always talked about taking and we jumped at the opportunity, even though we were only able to spend a few days there. Even flying into Lhasa was exciting. The majestic mountains seemed everywhere and at  3490m above sea level breathing was slightly laboured - even walking up to our 3rd floor hotel room felt like we were scaling a peak. The city thrummed with religious fervour as so many people had undertaken a pilgrimage to the city. Even on the way from the airport I spotted  a lone Japanese man prostrating himself with every step he'd travelled.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Food: Week Day Chicken Traybake with Roasted Vegetables

Summer definitely feels like it's on the way out here and I'm already craving the comfort food of the colder months. I've overindulged quite a bit over the summer and am now trying to get back into the five-a-day fruit  and veg habit. On week days I want meals that don't take too long to prepare which is why my Chicken Traybake with Roasted Vegetables works so well.

Chicken Thighs Traybake Roasted Vegetables

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Food: Lobster, Lobster, Lobster in New England

I embarked on our New England trip determined to eat as much lobster as I could. Can you tell that I love lobster? Here are a few of my favourites:

Shuckers, Woods Hole, MA
I've been eating whole lobster since I was little, so donned my bib and brandished my pliers like a pro. Lobster and potato salad on the same plate - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! Errrr, foodie heaven.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Travel: Summer in New England

I am just back from three weeks in New England and I thought I'd put pen to paper before the memory fades. I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and the proximity of nature and city reminded me of places like Vancouver and Cape Town, only different. The light was brighter than I've ever experienced before and I can understand why so many artists choose to make their home here.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Travel: My airbnb tips

Since the littlies have arrived we've not used hotels at all, always hiring villas or short-stay apartments instead. I started using airbnb last summer on the recommendation of a friend. 

On the whole, the experience has been very positive. In Paris we managed to find an apartment a street away from the friends we were visiting and less than 10 minutes away from the closest metro stop. The cost was also much more affordable than the hotels in the vicinity. It felt really good to be living in someone's home rather than in an impersonal holiday rental.

Since then we've used airbnb a few more times and have learned a few things:

Friday, 8 August 2014

Travel: A Few Days in Kathmandu





Kathmandu definitely feels like a gateway city. I felt quite restless the entire time I was there, perhaps because, like others, I was waiting to move on elsewhere. We spent a few days visiting the occasional attraction, but mostly languishing in our beautiful hotel, Dwarika's. We had been upgraded to a beautiful room overlooking the courtyard and really felt cocooned from the busy city beyond the hotel's walls. Dwarika's was a heritage hotel and therefore had amassed a vast array of Nepali artifacts and therefore had a relaxed museum feel about it. We definitely felt very lucky to be living amongst such beauty. While the norm for our holidays is to soak up as much culture as possible, Dwarika's invited us to just  relax.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Food: Smoked Haddock Chowder with a nod to Nigel Slater

The days have been hotter than usual and we've been eating later and later. Something about the warmer weather makes me less inclined to want to cook so recipes which require as little involvement from me as possible always seem more attractive.

I hadn't made any haddock chowder for ages and a quick look at a Nigel Slater recipe from his book Eat made me realise that I didn't have all the ingredients. I made some calculated substitutions and was so pleased with the results. The smoked fish was delicious, as was the sweetness from the sweetcorn. I'll definitely make this version again!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Travel: Summer in the Dordogne

I've spent a few weeks in the Dordogne each summer for the past few years. The French countryside has a knack of slowing down my pace of life like nothing else can and this part of south-west France has my heart. I generally spend my days visiting a market in the morning and then generally doing very little, while nibbling on the delicious bread and cheese.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Travel: My favourite places in Cape Town, South Africa

I've spent quite a bit of time in Cape Town and have very fond memories of being there. My happiest Capetonian memories are of time spent in the outdoors. Here is the list of my favourite places to appreciate the natural beauty of this wonderful city:
 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Food: Byron Talbott's Orange Chicken

I've only recently started watching cooking videos on YouTube and at first I was a bit unsure whether it was a format I was comfortable with. I've watched the Food Channel in the past, but had never ever attempted any recipes where I didn't actually have a print copy first.

I stumbled upon Byron Talbott's Orange Chicken recipe quite by chance. I think it might have popped into my YouTube What to Watch list and I was immediately interested.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Travel: Day trips from Edinburgh during the Summer

Edinburgh is lovely during the summer, especially when the weather is dry. July is relatively quiet in the city compared to the frenzy when the Edinburgh Fringe, International and Book Festivals take place in August. The chaos can be fun, but sometimes it can be a bit of a relief to leave the city for a while, even just for a day. All my day trip suggestions will take just a few hours and are suitable for everyone, including kids.
 
Cramond Beach is in the north of the city and can be reached by car or the Number 41 Lothian bus. This is a popular location for families, runners and dog-walkers. It has a cafe and a pub and an ice-cream van is parked along the promenade during the summer. The Cramond Kirk is very pretty and the 'secret' walled children's play park can be found just past the kirk hall. The highlight of any visit to Cramond, however, is the walk across the causeway to Cramond Island, which is one mile out to sea. The causeway is only accessable at low tide, so it is crucial to check tide-times in advance of any visit and also to check the safe crossing times at the entrance to the causeway and leave enough time for the return leg.



Linlithgow is a charming town to the west of Edinburgh  and Linlithgow Palace, which is now a beautiful ruin, was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The town can be reached by train from Edinburgh and a typical journey takes about 20 minutes. The Linlithgow Canal Centre is a 5 minute walk from the train station and during the summer, boat trips from 30 minutes to 2 hours are run during the afternoons. This is a wonderfully relaxing way to while away an afternoon. For the more active, a walk around the picturesque Linlithgow Loch takes about 45 minutes, and has wonderful vistas of the palace.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Running: Coping with Injury



I still haven't recovered from my injury and am now beyond frustrated. I am so tempted to just throw caution to the wind and go for a light jog, but I know that that will set me back even further. I am so desperate to get back to full fitness that at my last physio appointment  I asked for even more exercises and was given a theraband to start doing some resistance work. I do my exercises diligently because I need to feel that I'm helping myself to get better.

I've had to start watching my weight so that I don't gain weight due to my more sedentary lifestyle. This mainly means cutting out all alcohol, drinking herbal tea so that I stay well-hydrated and skipping the rare treat I usually allow myself. So far it's working.

In the meantime I have no races planned and I'm having to learn to take things one day at a time. I have been doing quite a lot of reading though, all running-related. These are all books I've been wanting to read for a while so I thought I'd get it out of the way before I started my summer reading.


Friday, 4 July 2014

Life: Grabbing a little bit of Zen

As time has passed, my life has gotten busier, my worries have grown and my responsibilities have increased, least of all because I have people in my life that need me. In all of this, it is so easy to lose the sense of oneself. It is so important that I also take care of myself, especially when I feel overwhelmed.

I've incorporated a few things into my life that keep my head in a happy place.




1. Mindfulness meditation.
I've mentioned this first because I always wish I could meditate more. Yes, I find meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, hard to do, but I always feel better for having tried, and hope that over time, I will get better at it. I can recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn's wonderful book "Wherever You Go, There you Are" to learn more about mindfulness meditation and also his CD "Guided Mindfulness Meditation" to get you started.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Travel: A short break to Morocco

The best part of travelling for me is experiencing the culture of a place. By culture I don't mean art or theatres, I mean catching a glimpse of what the people are really like, eating like a local, speaking with a local and the most fun bit, shopping like a local. I love to have a real sense of a place by the time I leave.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Food: Linguini alla Puttanesca

I love cooking and I love recipe books. This year, however, I've tried to be better about not buying too many new ones. My aim this year is to really get to know my current library of cookery books and discover at least one new recipe each week.




Monday, 23 June 2014

Travel: The Isles of Lewis and Harris

There are a few places I've been and sights I've seen, that have truly made my soul sing. I live for these moments and find that travel really helps me to live in the present.

A recent trip to the Isles of Lewis and Harris, two of Scotland's Western Isles, left me with so many wonderful memories and I wanted to share my thoughts on this wonderful part of the world.

First of all, getting there made it feel like I was going somewhere truly remote, and perhaps I was. A long drive to Ullapool and then nearly 3 hours on a car ferry, complete with the requisite sea-sickness, got us to Strornoway where we were based.

The landscape was so different to the rest of Scotland and so so beautiful. The Isles of Lewis in the north seemed very barren and flat. Here we visited the wonderful Callanish Standing stones, and on a very windy day, it certainly made one wonder how the crofters of yesteryear had survived during the harsh winters.


Friday, 20 June 2014

Running: Withdrawal symptoms


Over the past few years I've gradually gotten back into running. It's just so easy to squeeze in a quick 5k here and there in my busy lifestyle. I feel healthier, even though I'm one of those runners who gains weight when I train. The best bit, though, is that running gives me time to really think (or not think) and I really enjoy that.

However, I've recently suffered an injury which means that running is out of the question, no matter how tempting a quick jaunt might be. I feel envious when my husband heads out for a run, envious when other runners pass by, envious when friends and family sign up for another race. I'm desperately needing my fix and full recovery can not come fast enough.
I do the physiotherapist's exercises diligently in the hope that she'll discharge me at my next appointment but to no avail. She shakes her head and says that rest is the best thing, besides her exercises, of course.


My poor trainers look all forlorn, especially when lined up next to my husband's ones which have just come back from a hard trail run. I imagine that they feel as upset as I do.

Clementine.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Food: Crunchy Vietnamese salad

I've had a good look at my diet and felt the need to include a few more meat-free days. Usually a sandwich suffices for lunch but after a quick rummage in the fridge, I pulled this together. A Vietnamese-inspired crunchy vegetable salad. Not the prettiest, but seriously yummy.

Vitenamese Vegetable Salad

All Images Copyright Clementine Buttercup 2016