Happy Solstice! Happy Christmas!

Waiting

Waiting for Dawn. Solstice at Newgrange 2014

Solstice, a new year and new beginnings, right?

Well, I am ready for that on several levels.  But first, let’s get the excuses out of the way…

I fell off the blogging wagon in November. A weekend work conference, the day job, and family shenanigans were the main reasons. Though, of course, laziness figures somewhere in there too!

I kept up the running though. Nothing serious. Nothing too difficult. Just concentrating on enjoying the break from all of the above and in keeping a modicum of fitness.

But, in the past fortnight, even that has taken a dive too.

Luckily, I have rounded a bend. Actually, climbed over the peak. And now am basking in clear views of wonderful skies and more adventures ahead.

I can only hope it involves more running, more blogging, more culture, more history and, of course, lots of fun.

Lining up with the shamans, the hippies, the little kids, the locals, the tourists and the new Irish, I waited at Newgrange for the rising sun. Cloud cover obscured that view but it was enough to see darkness turn to light. Enough to see a fringe of palest pink on the easterly horizon. Enough to hear the beat of the bodhrán, the delighted ululations and greetings everywhere of “Happy Christmas!” “Happy Solstice!”

Here’s to starting over and to everyone starting over everywhere.

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Been Sitting Around Too Much?

Lussac Saint Emilion

Too Many Cosy Nights on the Sofa?

Had your fill of this annual Munchfest?

Been laying about sipping too much red wine, eating too many mincepies, and watching too much Downton Abbey?

Well, here`s a little vimeo clip to give you pause. The dangers of sitting is something I`d looked at in 2012 and shared them here.

But this little clip sums it all up very succinctly, and with great humour. It`s just shy of three minutes long, and is very entertaining. And informative, of course.

Please note that it is sponsored by an office furniture company! But a lot of it`s information ties in with the research presented by Dr Michael Mosley in BBC`s “Trust Me I`m a Doctor” series.  And Mosley`s central message of standing, and moving, as often as you can is very much endorsed here.

Right, I`m going to watch the rest of Downton Abbey from a standing position at the ironing board….

Credits:

Vimeo clip is by flikli.com

Christmas Day Run

You all know how I hate to brag… still, it`s Christmas, so I`m going to allow myself this one exception…

I ran five miles today. Yay! Christmas Day run done!

Perfect running weather. Temps just hovering at freezing point, which made the road  a little hazardous in places but all that crisp air and silence-oh, boy the silence!-made for a perfectly relaxing run down by the river.

Heron

Experiments with my new iphone camera weren`t quite as successful as I`d hoped. Still, it was cool spotting this grey heron and running beneath these blue skies

 

River Vista

 

And really, really cool getting home to this big bird….

Turkey 2013

… and for this, my most favourite dinner of the whole year…

Christmas Dinner

Spot your red cabbage, Sharon?

I realise this mix isn’t to everybody`s taste. But I could eat it for two weeks straight. Which is just as well, because, with all that`s left over, it`s likely that we`ll get the next few dinners out of it!

Crash time, now. I`m glued to the sofa about to dig into some of my Christmas reads. I got two brilliant books to add to my stash this Christmas.

But more about them in another post. Hope you`re enjoying the down time, and the running time in your place!

Festive Fare

Red Cabbage

Well it`s the time of the year for gifts. And I`m even happier when these gifts aren`t bought but are just thoroughly kind gestures.

So, first off, I want to thank Shaz from the bottom of my heart for posting up this recipe specially for me. I`m a pickle fiend. And I love my veggies too. So, when she mentioned she`d a red cabbage recipe that even passed her German mother-in-law`s high standards, I really wanted to try it. And Shaz posted the recipe just for me!

Well, today I made it. It`s super easy to do. And it`s delicious!

Run out and buy yourself a red cabbage now. You`ll need a cooking apple, onion, cider vinegar and brown sugar too. As you can see, it has all those pickling ingredients and so the end result is sweet, sour and scrumptious.

I managed to rescue half of it for the freezer, so one Christmas dinner veggie is done.Yay! It will add a lovely touch of colour to the Christmas dinner plates and is a change from brussel sprouts for those who are not inclined to opt for them.

And here`s that Red Cabbage recipe in Shaz`s blog.

My next recipe is from the Irish Times, via a thoughtful pal. I`d a taste of her cookies first and loved them.

I should have made these into gingerbread men but it seems all my men cutters are gone and I`m left with stars. Still, stars are a pretty good substitute for men, don`t you think?

Anyway, with a little dusting of icing sugar(only cos I was too dog lazy to whip out the icing bag…) these stars look perfectly festive too.

 Gingerbread Stars

Here`s the link to that Irish Times gingerbread recipe here. Their pic is very pretty with lots of proper gingerbread cutters and a piping bag that looks like it actually might work properly.

Dunno what it is about me and piping bags, but we never seem to get along.

Still, my sugar dusted stars were quickly gobbled up by the Teens and visitors. Infinitely simpler to make than fiddly mince pies, these stars added an easy Christmassy touch to the Chook House kitchen.

Finally, for those wondering about my Advent streak, I`ve overcome my little hiatus and am still running. Nothing spectacular, mind, just a maintenance pace, as time had pretty much got compressed in this crazy lead up to Christmas.

Actually, remind me not to sign up for Advent streak again. But maybe, to schedule a running holiday for Advent instead!

Anyway, we`re nearly there. Enjoy the last minute scramble to get things done!