Easter Deliciousness


Sunday, 31 March 2013

I like Easter, Charlie has a few days off work, there's chocolate, booze and nothing in particular to do. It's like Christmas but without the stress and obligations.

I don't do a huge amount of cooking at Easter but I always make hot cross buns for Good Friday and something chocolatey. I do a roast on Easter day -chicken this year and something lemony for pudding.

Hot cross buns. Their crosses disappeared during baking. Maybe next year I'll make proper crosses.

Good Friday fish. Salmon with parsley garlic butter.

Salted Chocolate Nutella biscuits. These were inspired by this recipe. I didn't use the cookie recipe though preferring to keep it simple with my trusty fork biscuit recipe which I made a little thinner than usual and sprinkled with sea salt before baking.

Chocolate biscuit cake made with pistachios, dried cranberries and dried apricots.

Lemon curd pavlovas. I made some lemon curd earlier this week and thought how lovely, fresh and springlike it was, perfect for an Easter dessert. 

Now I must get back to my sock knitting, I'm halfway through the second one now. Such fun!
Happy Easter to you all.



Thursday, 28 March 2013

We are all concentrating very hard here on this first day of the Easter hols.

 Katie is threading and wrapping. She's making beads and bracelets.

George is painting a model. It's some kind of armoured beast.

And I am knitting a sock. This is the second attempt. The first was going so well but then I got to the toe and the pattern said 'knit to first marker' and I swore because I had taken the first marker out rows back thinking I wouldn't need it again.

Never mind though because although the heel on this second attempt is lumpier than my first attempt the rest of my knitting is better. This is the first thing I have ever knitted after all and despite a very sore left index finger I am thoroughly enjoying my sock.

I am even planning the next pair.

Tom, by the way, is concentrating on sleeping. He went to a sleepover yesterday.



Friday, 22 March 2013

Charlie is teaching himself to play the guitar. He's a long way from being Jimmy Page but with the help of books and Youtube he is making progress.

I am teaching myself to knit properly, also with the help of books and Youtube. While I know how to knit I am not very good at it -a bit of a knitwit really. However, inspired by the formidable sock making skills of blogger friends I am attempting to knit a pair of socks.

It's a steep learning curve and as Charlie observed maybe I should have started with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star rather than Stairway To Heaven.

He's probably right. This was the first time I had tried knitting with four needles at once and it isn't easy. It took me at least six attempts before I was able to produce this poor practice sample. But despite its obvious faults -I seem to have purled the last row- I am pleased with it. I know that knitting the leg part of the sock is the easy bit. Heel turning is a complete mystery to me but I am feeling ready to learn in spite of Charlie's doubts

I bought my sock yarn from The Fibreworks in Chipping Norton. What a lovely shop it is. Beautiful yarns and such helpful and friendly ladies. They have their own blog, do pop over and pay them a visit.

The yarn I chose is a self-striping sock yarn called Jawoll Magic Dégradé from Lang Yarn (peacock 88). It's a wool and nylon mix. I shall enjoy seeing the stripes appear as I go round and round.

I like what Jane Brocket has to say about sock knitting and domesticity

'The only way to knit a sock in the round is to keep coming back to your starting point. But, almost imperceptibly, progress is made. It's a pattern, yes, but it's not really a circle, it's a spiral and all the stitches and rows, like days and weeks, are linked to form an unbroken chain. We can think we are getting nowhere with the cyclical nature of domesticity, and yet all the time, as with sock-knitting, we are moving on to a new stitch or a new day and then, suddenly, a whole new row or colour..'

Jane Brocket -The Gentle Art of Domesticity

I shall ponder the nature of domesticity as I knit. Until I get into a mess, then I shall swear.

Scenes From a Birthday


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Katie turned thirteen today.
She celebrated by acquiring a Facebook account, a great deal of money from various relatives, a great deal of sweets and chocolate from her brothers and some Converse socks.
I made pollo alla diavolo and squid for supper and a vanilla buttermilk birthday cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess.
A very satisfying birthday.

Only Connect


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

There are several reasons why I love blogging.

1. Self-expression. I can express myself with words and with photographs. Photography delivers a double hit of satisfaction as it can be a thing of beauty in itself as well as a way of recording something lovely that you have made.

2. Instant gratification. Obviously you have to spend time writing a post, taking photos, finding links, sometimes doing a little research but once you have finished you hit publish and there it is, out there waiting to be read, or ignored, but there for you to admire even if no one else does.

3. Being in charge. I love this. I like being able to choose how my blog looks, what I write about and how often I post. Who wants to be a clone of another blog? The Coffee Lady has written an excellent post about blogging your own way here (and do read the comments too).

4. it is a record of my life. I love looking back at old posts and seeing what I was up to, what was flowering in the garden, what the children were saying or what I was cooking.

The fifth reason why I love blogging is the best reason.

5. Making connections.When I began blogging I knew no one who was interested in the same things as I was, no one who crafted, read the books I read, or cooked from scratch. The other mums at the school gates would look at me in astonishment when I mentioned any of these deviant activities. When I started blogging I realised I was not a freak after all, that there were women out there with whom I could connect.

 I never imagined when I began this blog that I would actually meet some of those marvellous, creative and funny women, nor that they would become real friends (the 'sock group ladies' as Curvywitch calls us). But I have and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Then there are those bloggers who I haven't met but who feel like friends just the same because of the connection with their blogs. Bloggers like Annie, Lynn,  Megan, Lucille and Mrs Bean (who likes the same books as me) and many more.

And then there all those readers who don't have blogs but who regularly comment or email me, you feel like friends too. Toffeeapple, Pati, Kari, Faye, Bonnie in PA and Barb in GA and many more I appreciate your comments enormously.

I believe that a blogger who doesn't allow comments is missing the point. It is after all how we make those connections and although people may read your blog if you don't allow them to respond how will you connect?
 Having said that I no longer allow anonymous comments. I am not particularly happy about having to make this decision but it seems to be the only way of stopping the unmanageable amount of spam that was getting through even on my most recent posts. The spam ranged from infuriating nonsensical garbage to graphic descriptions of sex toys. I had had enough so I made the decision to only allow comments from people with an internet identity.

I had a couple of emails from readers about my decision. Both readers were under the impression that they would no longer be able to comment. As I explained in my replies this is not the case. You do not have to have a blog in order to comment. If  being able to comment really matters to you then you will have to set up a google account or an OpenID but it is free and easy. Many, many regular commenters have done it and I think it is preferable to having word verification (hateful for commenters) or moderation (I'd still have to read the spam).

Remember that you are more than welcome to email me instead. I always respond to emails, even unpleasant ones.

Favourite Blogs
On my link bar under my blog title there is a page with a list of some of my favourite blogs. I have recently given it a shake up and added some new ones so do take a look and maybe visit some new places and make those connections.

The photos today are entirely random and for decorative purposes only.

Still loving the yellow forsythia against the Bristol blue.

Winter bites back.

Nutella breakfast

Quince buds!

Random Deliciousness


Friday, 8 March 2013

Gosh I haven't done one of these posts for ages. This one is heavy on the salad. No cake or puds. Sorry about that.

Feta Niçoise. This was slightly adapted from the Fast Diet book. It comes in at around 390 calories. I used big handful of little gem lettuce leaves, chopped cucumber, 50g green beans, 6 black olives, 2 medium boiled eggs and 60g feta plus a squirt of lemon juice and some black pepper. Very filling.

I made this noodle salad for the children's lunch boxes. Noodles are their favourite foodles.
It is Nigella's sesame peanut noodles but without the peanuts or sesame and with completely different veg. It is in fact a totally different recipe. I followed her recipe for the dressing substituting sunflower butter for peanut butter, leaving out the sesame seeds (I had none), using sunflower oil in place of garlic oil (I had none) and lemon juice instead of lime juice (I had none). I cooked some dried egg noodles and mixed them with the dressing and some cooked carrots, peas and sweetcorn and raw spring onions. It has gone down very well and has lasted nearly all week. Next Time I might add some cooked chicken.

This is a ready-made endamame and aduki bean salad which I bought for one of my fast day lunches (186 calories a tub). These ready-made salads are fab for calorie counting days but you do pay the price -literally.

This is lentil, feta, grape and walnut salad from here. I used beluga lentils for this which are like tiny black beads. They don't retain their black beadiness once cooked and any lentil would work for this salad apart from orange ones which will turn to mush. Apologies, I deleted my flickr account the lentil salad pic was one of the casualties.

A piece of grilled chicken and a heap of salad has become my favourite fast day meal. I bash the hell out of a skinless chicken breast to tenderise it and make it thin enough to cook quickly on the griddle. then I squeeze half a lemon over it and sprinkle some spices and or garlic over it and leave it to marinate for a few hours. Much nicer than the pasta bake the rest of the family was having.

I apologise for the quality of this photo. I've done my best with it but it still looks as if it were taken in 1975.
Note to self -do not photograph food in the dining room when the light is on.
Roast parsnip, carrots and red onion with halved cherry tomatoes added for the last few minutes. The whole lot was tossed in a honey-mustard dressing and served with spicy sausages. Really delicious.

Small Delights


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The incredibly neat stitching and beautiful patterns of my new potholders made by Feather Your Nest. At first I thought they were too lovely to use, but they were made to use and so I do with much pleasure.

The contrast of yellow and blue. So good together.

 Kristina's exquisite knitting. She assures me that I will be able to knit a pair of socks. I am doubtful.

The oddly satisfying act of gathering up frozen kale into a bag so that I can make colcannon next time I have leftover mash.

The shadow of  forsythia branches as the morning sun hits my sitting room wall.

Sparkling orange on the kitchen windowsill as the afternoon sun streams through my washing up liquid bottle.

March Posy


Monday, 4 March 2013

Crocuses, primrose, lenten roses (hellebore), snowdrop, forsythia and a miniature daffodil.

All with their own individual charm but coming together to make a posy of loveliness.
Not unlike the twelve blog ladies who gathered together on Saturday to make a posy of sock knitting, cake eating, coffee drinking, patchwork piecing, gift giving, story-telling and crochet hooking all tied up with a big ribbon of laughter and friendship.

This posy is especially for them. Thank you ladies for a wonderful, wonderful day.

And to everyone who reads this blog please enjoy the flowers, it really is starting to look a lot more like spring and lot less like winter and that is surely something to celebrate.

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