The days are colder, darkness falls earlier, and it seems like everybody is quite happy to hibernate in the cosy warmth of their house for the weekend. Given that the country is going to be battered by wind and heavy rain until Sunday, it's an understandable reaction.
It's been a long, tiring week, so I'm greatly looking forward to some R&R. This doesn't mean I'll be stuck to the couch for two days, marathoning the episodes of Peaky Blinders I'm behind on (though there will be a bit of that at some point). Instead, I'll be a little more active.
First up is a gym workout tomorrow morning. Now, if you had told me six months ago that I would be happily getting up before noon on a Saturday to sweat and pant for an hour, I would've laughed loudly at you. However, in just a few short weeks, I've become a bit of a gym addict. Wonders never cease.
Between the stress relief I get from exercise to the calming feel-good hit that comes following a decent work out, I don't know how I managed the chaos of life before it. For anyone out there debating whether to get a bit more active, do it. Immediately.
But the majority of tomorrow will be spent in the kitchen; chopping, boiling, roasting and baking. The combination of payday and seasonal produce means I'll be taking a trip to stock up on supplies after the gym tomorrow, before I gleefully try to decide what to cook first.
Unlike the hot, cloudless days of Summer when meals are light and chilled, I prefer the long days of Winter and the endless possibilities of comfort in a bowl or on a plate. Soups have been a consistent craving for me recently but I want to up my game a little from my go-to veg one.
Pea soup with ham chunks and a roasted butternut squash one with chickpeas will simmer on the stove tomorrow before being frozen for a quick fix of yumminess when needed. The beef hotpot with sliced potato topping I was going to make tomorrow was done today as poor Mammy has a bad flu and I wanted to leave her with a hug in a bowl (which is what I think anything slow-cooked essentially is) before I headed off to work. Here's a picture of it before I put it in the oven and I might grab a bowl of it myself when I get home later.
The boyfriend gave me a copy of "The Happy Pear" cookbook last week and I'll definitely be browsing the recipes before I head to the shops tomorrow. But I do love my meat, so a bit of that will need to feature in some other dishes.
I adore going into a butchers and seeing what looks good rather than only buying from a set list. One gets a nice kick from a dinner or super that was scrumptiously unexpected. But I've had a craving for some lamb - juicy and pink, preferably on the bone - so I might indulge in some of that tomorrow.
Of course, no Saturday would be complete without something sweet to put in the oven. I think a chocolate bread and butter pudding is in order, to be served with lashings of vanilla ice cream while still hot. A tray of biscuits or muffins to bring into the office on Monday will probably be made up too and it's my intention that some of the wonderful Autumn berries and fruits on offer make an appearance.
The evening will be spent with the boyfriend, probably getting him to try whatever I've cooked and possibly, maybe, finally getting to see Gone Girl. It's a simple plan, but one that will nourish the body and mind and will provide refreshment from a hectic week. I think it's so important to find joy in the simple, little things.
Such treasures are what restore and revive us, they enable us to handle whatever may come our way. Weekends were made to do the things you love, with the people you love. And who doesn't need a bit of comfort from time to time?