Valentines Day again. Never been the biggest fan, maybe because I never got any cards from secret admirers. Howard and I have never been hung up on it, unless we see a particularly daft card. Always a good excuse for chocolate though - I spent the afternoon making some - a selection of orange and lemon flavoured white chocolate cups. Still at the experimental stage - the lemon flavoured ones turned out fine, but the moment I added a few drops of red colouring to the orange ones, the texture of the melted chocolate changed. Happened to both the rose and mont flavoured chocolates I made for Christmas too. It turns them almost fudge like - fine to eat, but a pain to divide into paper cases.
The menu planning is going well. Certainly makes day to day cooking easier. We hardly have any leftovers now, except what is planned to turn into lunch, and grocery shopping is much easier now. Tonight I'm cooking smoked haddock - poached in a splash of milk, and served with potatoes and broad beans. Not something you'd want to take into work & reheat (sadly any fish or brassica dish does not smell office friendly), so tomorrow Howard will take one of the soups I made by pureeing the remains of one of our casseroles & freezing it. Hopefully if he chooses one and takes it out of the freezer tonight, it will have defrosted in time for him to cook & eat it tomorrow - the last one too two days to defrost!
Normally around this time of year, I would have attended the first RHS Flower show at their HQ in Westminster. In fact, it was on today. But this year I decided not to. Firstly, my knee is causing too much pain at the moment, so I didn't want to be out alone for too long. Secondly, with just the one income at the moment, we need to buy just the plants we need to grow, and not be distracted. I have a plant and crop list, and I'm doing my utmost to stick to it. But most of all, the RHS have decided to charge for entry to the shows, even for members. As far as I am concerned, free entry to these small shows is part of being a member. In fact, I'm pretty certain it was stated as included on their website at the time I paid my subs for the year. We are told it is to help them pay for a garden apprentice scheme, though I think it could well be to allow for a shortfall if the new show at Chatsworth House doesn't pull in the crowds. All in all, I think it's as badly thought out a move as selling their main hall to Westminster School - a private, for profit school, then having to pay rent to use it about three times a year. We'll have to see if they back down.
I also missed the Myddleton House Snowdrop sale this year. Always held at the end of January, this is fairly local to me. Just a couple of bus rides and a walk in fact. It's a fun event, with everyone queueing up, and then a 15 minute frenzy when the gates open. I've bought some lovely snowdrops there, but have not gone as mad as some. I set myself a budget, and for last year's sale, I even compiled a strict wants list. Some of the more obsessive collectors spent hundreds (I've never seen so many £50 notes in one place). Granted, some of the more collectable plants had prices around or over three figures, but I am quite happy with my collection. It lacks a few "classic" plants, but I have a good mix of small, tall, double, green marked, yellow marked, robust and dainty. I have them in pots dotted along the path from the back door, and they brighten what can be a shady part of the garden. Even during the fog and snow of the past couple of weeks, the differing plants brightened the way and encouraged me to get organised for the new growing year.
In fact on the weekend of the snowdrop sale, we ended up taking a journey to a nearby garden centre to get at least a few seed potatoes. Again, I'd put together a list of exactly what I wanted. I had looked online and couldn't get every variety I wanted from just one place, so was getting frustrated. As it turned out, the garden centre had more varieties than the one they advertised as having in stock, so I was able to get all on my list.
So now all I need is for the weather to warm up slightly and I can get going on preparing to plant for the new year.