Small Delights (vi)

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

I feel a bit bad about this post because in truth it is no more than a few random phone photos (except the last one). Inspiration and motivation have deserted me and I am not remembering to take photos or to use my super-duper blog notebook which is full of ideas none of which appeal to me right now. I'm yawning a lot and my feet are cold but there are plenty of small delights to be had.


 There are pumpkins at the farmshop.


And kale. There are also bags of 'dirty carrots' £1 for 2lbs. I bought the clean carrots at 27p a lb and wondered if there were people actually paying for dirt.


And there were expensive out of season flowers which I admired but didn't buy. I am making do with shrivelled rose hips and sedum.


On Sunday Charlie and Katie strode up Herefordshire Beacon. I staggered after them. It was flipping windy. I have been recovering from the exertion all week.

My husband
Today The Persephone Biannually arrived. To be enjoyed just as soon as I hit the publish button. I have already ordered the two books I mentioned in my last post. Goodness I do like that dress.


And I am knitting socks for my cold feet. This yarn is the same as the one in this post. I do rather adore it, it's like knitting a stained glass window. It's P623.


Finally thank you to all who made blog suggestions. I already read a lot of the ones suggested which is hardly surprising as we all like the same sort of thing. There were a few new-to-me blogs though, which I think I will enjoy, but I suspect I may already be reading all the best blogs and I live in hope of some of my favourites coming out of hibernation, why just this week Mise at Pretty Far West reappeared, hoorah! I will get a rejuvenated blog list up just as soon as I can tear myself away from sock knitting, Persephone reading and feeding the ravening hordes.



Just Now I Am.....

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Thursday, 16 October 2014











~ Enjoying autumn. Apparently there are some people who do not enjoy autumn. I am not one of them. In fact with the exception of extreme heat I enjoy every seasonal manifestation. Autumn is my favourite though, what's not to like about a season with quinces?

~ Eating split pea soup. Split peas are bargainous food. 55p for 500g and a good source of protein. I use a whole packet plus an onion, a carrot and a stick of celery if I have one. Just simmer in stock until soft. Ham stock is great if you have it, I did, leftover from boiling a small ham . Some bacon bits make a welcome addition. Makes enough for 8 people.

~ Anticipating the publication of the three new Persephone books next week. The Dorothy Whipple, Because of the Lockwoods and The Country Life Cookery Book with illustrations by Eric Ravilious are going in my basket asap.

~Finding yet another spelling mistake in a letter from Katie's school. Sigh.

~ Searching for new and stimulating blogs to read. A lot of my favourite bloggers are posting infrequently or not at all and I miss their take on life. I like humour, intelligence and originality (I don't ask for much do I?!), I'm not so keen on bunting. So, if you have any good recommendations do please share them.

~Reading Standard Issue, brilliant online magazine by women. Great article about Malala Yousafzai which I will make my daughter read later when she can tear herself away from watching Zoella. Also great article by Emma Silverpebble about making stuff.


Cake of the Month ~ Hazelnut, Chocolate and Pear Cake

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Friday, 10 October 2014

Cake soon I promise, but first let me say how much I enjoyed the comments on my last post about not wearing makeup. I knew I wasn't alone. I was struck particularly by how often the words pale/washed out/faded/ ill looking cropped up as reasons for wearing makeup. I have to say I think this is a learned response. How often do you look at a man and think how pale or washed out he looks? Why is looking pale a bad thing? What will happen if people think you look pale? I'm willing to bet they won't even notice. 




Ok, back to important things. Cake.
When my friend Tracy gave me some hazelnuts from her garden I knew they'd be the perfect ingredient around which to base my October cake. 


Pears are at their best at this time of year so also perfect for my October cake. Adding chocolate was a no-brainer. 



I used the recipe for 'a great chocolate cake for family, friends, dessert, tea, birthdays...' in Nigel Slater's Appetite as a framework for my cake. The whole point of the recipes in this book are that they can and should be used as blueprints.



I used fewer nuts and less chocolate, I added pears and swapped the demerara sugar for light soft brown sugar and I omitted the coffee. The result was, if I may say so, delicious.




Hazelnut, Chocolate and Pear Cake

Grease and base-line a 9"/23cm cake tin with a removable bottom.

Chop into small pieces to resemble gravel (see fourth picture)
150g hazelnuts (I toasted mine slightly in a dry frying pan but I wouldn't say this was essential)
100g dark chocolate
By hand or by food processor is fine.

Peel, core and chop into chunks about 1 cm big 
1-2 pears my pears were big and I didn't use all the chunks. You're aiming for enough to scatter over the surface of the cake.

Cream together until fluffy
250g soft butter
250g light soft brown sugar

Add one by one
4 large eggs
Beat well so that each egg is well mixed in before you add the next one.

Sift together then fold into the creamed mixture
250g plain flour
2 rounded teaspoons of baking powder
half a teaspoon of salt

Stir in most of the chocolate and nuts reserving a handful to scatter on the top of the cake.
Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and level the surface.
Scatter the pear chunks over the top of the cake.
Finish with the reserved chocolate and nuts.

Bake at 180°c (160°c fan oven) for 1 hour and 20 minutes until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

This cake won't keep for very long because of the pears in it, so eat it up quickly. Tough, I know.


Barefaced

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

 So I'm on Twitter this week. This week because this week is when Tom is in Iceland and when his tutors are tweeting pictures of what they're getting up to (volcanoes, geysers, glaciers etc). I realise now that I didn't have to join Twitter to see these pictures but I thought I'd give the thing another go. My last fling with Twitter left me thinking 'so what?' and frankly my opinion hasn't changed. Probably I just don't 'get' Twitter, maybe I'll try harder with it. I like Instagram better though. My feeling is Instagram or Twitter, not both, particularly if you are tweeting what you have just posted on Instagram.

However, I did have one interesting exchange on Twitter about not wearing makeup. I declared that I'd last worn makeup seven years ago, and that was for a party and was itself the first time in years that I'd dug out my meagre collection of face paint. I was quite taken aback that my declaration was met with amazement and interest. Surely I am not alone in not wearing makeup? I thought of my friends and tried to remember which ones wore makeup and which didn't. I couldn't tell you. I don't notice makeup unless it is really obvious. This made me think what if everyone is like me and all that time and money spent making up every day is wasted because no one notices one way or another? But maybe if you are a makeup wearer you notice it on others and if you aren't you don't.

So why don't I wear makeup?

Well apart from my suspicion that nobody but the wearer notices it I also believe it makes bugger all difference to your life. I used to wear makeup every day when I was working. I'd do the whole thing; foundation, powder, blusher, eyes, lips. It took bloody ages and made no difference whatsoever to how I felt, how my day went, how others interacted with me or how well I did my job. The only difference it made was to how I looked and although I looked nice wearing makeup I really don't think I looked not nice not wearing it. Also I absolutely hated not being able to rub my eyes or wipe my mouth without spoiling my makeup. I particularly loathed the feeling of lipstick on my lips and they way it comes off on glasses, ugh. It's expensive too, I'd much rather buy food than makeup. And the time it takes, oh honestly how can anyone be bothered with it all?

It's not only makeup I don't bother with, I don't use any skin care products either. I wash my face once a day with this soap and that's it, no moisturising, exfoliating, no anti-wrinkle creams, serums or potions. As for hair I use this shampoo and no conditioner, it's never been coloured either and as you can see I don't spend any time styling it.

I do pluck my eyebrows but not excessively, I do shave under my arms and I shave my legs if it is very hot and I'm wearing a skirt. Also I'm not averse to lovely scented soaps and shower gels and I love perfume.

C'est moi
So this me in all my barefaced glory, taken with my phone camera today, looking like, well, myself and aged 48.


And this is my very ancient makeup collection, all well over ten years old and about to be thrown out.

My daughter Katie who is 14 loves makeup. She says it's fun, and yes, I totally get that it's fun, I used to think it was fun too. I can see the attraction of all those colours in their shiny packages like a cross between art supplies and sweeties. And of course she wants to do what her friends do, me I don't care anymore I'm perfectly content to look like myself.

What about you? Am I peculiar or are there other barefaced women out there?


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