Late Autumn Interlude
November Field Notes
How are we all doing? I’ve been quieter online after working hard over the summer. It’s a predictable pattern by now but I’m having another of my ‘I hate social media’ episodes where I end up watching loads of videos about what chronic internet usage does to our brains. It’s magical stuff! But the less time I spend online, the more sacred life seems to be, and that’s a difficult thing to reconcile when I do, more or less, need an online presence to earn a living. Substack seems to be less vapid than Instagram and I like it a lot, so I thought I’d pop on tonight and check in with you guys.
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I promised a monthly newsletter but I’ll be honest, my brains are a bit scrambled despite feeling pretty content at the moment. I’m working on some really exciting stuff behind-the-scenes that will reveal itself next year, but it involves lots of lists and open tabs and illegible scribbles and sometimes it feels like trying to keep sand in a sieve. But I’ve also been doing more things offline, including crafting for fun again! I just finished painting Olive and Ash’s advent calendar, which I bought from Hobbycraft and decorated with POSCA pens, inspired by winter fruits and berries:
I haven’t got much more to share except that I’m enjoying the cosy November vibes and I ate three mince pies today. Other things I have enjoyed recently include:
Collecting, drying and storing seeds from the pumpkins ready to sow again in the spring - I saved a few from the giant polar bear pumpkin we bought at the pumpkin patch, so I’m hoping a few will germinate!
Taking part in the Zoe study to understand how my body processes food. I’ve been wearing a blood sugar sensor for two weeks and it’s been such an interesting process - highly recommend!
Watching Possession (1981) and The Wicker Man (1973), both weird and wonderful in very different ways.
Designing products for the relaunch of my stationery brand in April. I’ve just finished learning how to make repeat patterns on Procreate and needless to say, I am addicted to the process.
I also had a lovely time at Newbury Racecourse this month, receiving my award from the British Horse Society for equestrian writing! We had a really nice day surrounded by inspiring people, and I even won money on a horse. Just call me Tommy Shelby.
Other than that, I’m already feeling festive and hunkering down with my little family as the nights draw in. The heating’s on, the chickens have extra bedding and I bought a huge dry robe for a coat which is basically like wearing a duvet everywhere. Dave says I look like a walking recycling bin but it’s hard to care when you’re that cosy. Next time we speak we’ll be in the swing of Christmas, and hopefully my thoughts will have aligned themselves more clearly. Going forward with my Substack, I’d like to share more about my creative process within the context of my life at home, and how each thread of my day to day life weaves into the rest of the tapestry. For now, I’ll leave you with this photo of the chickens I took today, all lined up by the rosehips like a prophetic constellation:
Something I Made - Stories of the Sun by Dawn Nelson (cover design)
I absolutely loved designing this cover for my friend Dawn’s brilliant new book. She’s a writer, storyteller and heritage consultant by trade, and I was so honoured not only to design this cover but also to write the foreword - the first I’ve ever written! If the overcast skies of November are weighing heavy on your soul, I recommend pre-ordering this heliocentric book ready for its release in March with the History Press.
Something I Like - Squished Rescue Blueberry Boost
My uncle (hi Jim!) brought these round for me to try the other day and I’m a big fan. Squished is a local brand that rescues thousands of kilos of berries that would otherwise be wasted, then air-dries them and turns them into delicious new products. I’ve been sprinkling the blueberry boost over mine and the kids’ breakfast, but I think I’ll try baking them into something this week? It’s a great way to combat food waste and add some extra nutrients into your diet, and I really recommend having a look! They also make jams, flapjacks and energy balls. Delicioso.
Recipe of the Month - Chickpea Dal with Crispy Parsnip
This one’s on the menu this week - another banger from Riverford. It’s a creamy dal made with chickpeas rather than lentils, topped with crispy parsnip shards and a gloop of mango chutney for good measure. If that doesn’t scream hearty late autumn supper I don’t know what will.