Give Yourself the Greatest Luxury of All!


I like luxury- who doesn’t?! Not to excess, you understand, but just enough of a treat to really enjoy and savour. You know, like buying the violet creams that come in the pretty box from the farm shop, rather than a bar of Supermarkets-own-chocolate. My daily visit to Brocante Home.  Having the heating on for half an hour when I get home and am cold, even though really it is a little bit too early. I think it is so important to have these little luxuries in life- it makes it all so much nicer. This the coming weeks, we should all focus on bringing a little luxury to our lives. It needn’t be terribly expensive- anything from having three inches more hot water and half an hour longer in the bath, to ten minutes longer in bed, or buying the brand name instead of the generic one. When I do my shop this weekend, instead of buying a full size bottle of red or white, I shall be buying myself a teeny bottle of Tesco Champagne and enjoy the bubbles (Incidentally, in a recent blind tasting, Tesco Champagne came top)!

There is no reason why you cannot spread the love a little~ just don’t forget to indulge yourself while spoiling others! A nice foot rub for your partner? Afternoon cakes at work? Anything will do, as long as you feel spoiled, or like you are merrily spoiling those around you. The possibilities for spoiling and luxury are endless (try Rita Konigs wonderful book, How to Live for a whole chapter of ideas!)…but just this weekend, I learnt what the greatest luxury of all is. And housekeepers, if I could make one gift to you this year, it would be this. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and it is a thing that is at once abundant and scarce. And the only way I have found of getting it so far, is to reach right out and take it.

I am talking about time. It really is the greatest luxury of all, and can make such a difference to your life. Sometimes it is impossible, I know, but sometimes not~ we can do a little extra and reward ourselves with so much. For example, one habit I have got into just recently is making a double batch of soup, stew, or other such delicious dinner that will freeze well. It doesn’t take much extra time to make a double batch, but the idea that one day in the following week I wont have to cook…just reheat, then curl up on the sofa with all the candles ablaze and enjoy is just bliss. If you can find small ways to give yourself the gift of time, you will thank yourself for it many times over- especially as we are coming up to the festive season, and our time is often stretched to the limit. When trying to carve out a little extra time for myself, I like to think of a passage from Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance. She says that the first Christmas took nine months to arrange- and we should not expect ourselves to do it in any less. I find this a particularly soothing thought, when others pass comments on me getting my card list out in October!

And now I will tell you just how I came to realise the real value of time. I knew I would be working the Saturday just gone, and the Sunday I was meant to go to church in the morning, then be at the Harvest Festival lunch, then on home to the Farmers Market! Well I knew I was asking a lot of myself, so I decided to make the apple pie I was taking to the harvest lunch Saturday night, so it would be all ready for the morning.  I had been shopping on the Friday, and bought some pastry for the pie so I would not have to take the time to make my own (and believe me, this was the first mistake as you shall see!) so I was feeling quite good. Thinking of how nice it would be to wake up in the morning, and just have to shower and go. I suppose the problem started when the supermarket had run out of blocks of pastry, and I just threw in the ready rolled stuff, cursing over the extra cost and not taking the time to check the size of the sheet.

When I unrolled it, at five to ten Saturday night, five minutes before Tesco closes, I discovered that there was barely enough pastry to line the pie dish! Let alone cover it! In a puff of smoke, my dreams of the perfect pie disappeared. I had planned to fill the pie with a spicy mixture of local Bramley seedlings and coxes, and then cover it with little pastry leaves. It was going to be a wonderful pie. I immediately rolled it a little thinner. But all this achieved was to give me a piece for the top that was not quite enough, no matter how I rolled it. Yet it was tantalizingly big enough to make me think perhaps it could be. So I rolled, re-rolled, stamped out leaves, scrunched them up again and could have cried with frustration. (Why not just give up and take something else you ask? I had put my name down to take a pie! They asked for pie or rice salad- and I had signed to bring a pie! At that moment in time, having pie to bring seemed like the most important thing in the world)!

Finally, I took the marzipan that I had bought all ready for the Christmas cake, rolled it out think, topped the pie with that, a handful of pastry leaves, and put it in the oven. Crisis averted, all was well. Until 20 minutes later, when I took it out of the oven. Oh, if only you could have peeked through my window then. You would not have seen the calm, tranquil Mimi taking out the perfect pie Nigella style, as I had imagined earlier, before I embarked on this project! Oh no, you would have seen a blackened pie where the marzipan had caught, me sobbing into my apron, the sink filled with all the dishes I had used- utter, unBrocante chaos!

Now I wish I could say that I threw the pie away, that I bought a new one on my way to Church. Or that I knocked up a batch of homemade pastry and made another one. I did not- but what I did do was to take a sieve and some icing sugar, and liberally dredge the pie with it to hide the scorched bit, and then abandon it anonymously in the kitchen at church, so no one would know it was mine!  So please please, learn from me, and my tale of appley woe! Treat yourself to all the luxuries you can, because you do deserve them, but most of all, give yourself the luxury of time- it is a luxury like no other! And I won’t be offended if you come to my house and decline the offer of pie…

Love, Mimi xxx