This year started full of optimism and plans. I'm still feeling optimistic but maybe not quite so much... there are a few things going on that are the source of worry and stress but which I'm not going to go into here on the blog.
But although you can't control everything that happens in life, you can decide how to react to things. And I'm trying to keep a sense of perspective and pragmatism.
Plus, there are always little things which help. Last week, a lovely reader called Cathy got in touch after reading this post. She then proceeded to send me some vintage Ladybird books for Joe. Such a nice gesture. Thank you, Cathy.
Last week was a tough one. Sometimes you just feel as though things are conspiring against you. Jay came home one evening with some roses to cheer me up. They did. Because it's not just receiving gifts that's nice, it's the knowledge that someone's been thinking about you.
Oh, and here's my marmalade. We have an awful lot of it. But it tastes wonderful. I've given some away, including a jar for the man who owns the greengrocer's shop where I bought my Seville oranges. I took it to him on Friday - it was his last day in the shop as it's been taken over by someone else.
So a jar of marmalade was just a small thank you for all his fruit and veg-related advice, and for the fact that he always had a chat with Joe when we went in.
He was quite taken aback with his gift and I got a hug.
I think that little jar made his day, and his reaction made mine.
As I made my way to the hairdresser to collect a screaming toddler (in there with his grandad to get a much-needed haircut), an old man stopped his car so I could cross the road. Little kindnesses make a lot of difference, don't they?
Baking always makes me feel relaxed and yesterday I baked a marmalade cake. It's disappearing very quickly. The photo was taken before I iced it (while there was a tiny bit of sunshine left in the kitchen).
I put the marmalade photo on Twitter. It resulted in my having a little chat with none other than Nigel Slater himself. I was beside myself with excitement - I do love Nigel, his writing and his recipes.
All these goings-on because of some orange preserve.
The magic of marmalade, eh?