While our little boy sat in his chair for a few moments today, I had a chance to:
:: have a cup of tea
:: eat a bar of Green & Blacks chocolate that a dear friend sent me
:: do a bit of doodling (I had started this last night: we were watching something a bit scary, so during those bits I would be scribbling furiously)
The bowl of eggs in the background are calling me, I need to bake today. More for my head than my stomach, needless to say…
Our little chap, despite his top teeth coming through and causing him plenty of grief, is still delighting us with his beaming smiles at every turn…
(thank goodness for Homeopathy- I must say this mantra 100 times a day; every time he gets fussy and upset I give him a little remedy and he instantly settles)
I planted a few roses and clematis today in the warm sun.
I was hoping to join in the Yarn Along yesterday… had half a post, half-written…
then got side-tracked by a day that rumbled along unexpectedly, to the soundtrack of shrieks and hoots of laughter from the boys upstairs (they have built a “Lego City”, and yesterday there was an epic game happening up there. Grace and I only saw them for food)
Our little girl was bemoaning the fact that she had no wings to go flying, so we decided to remedy that: I cut out a wing-shape from some watercolour paper, saturated it with water, then she painted it, exclaiming at how the paint spread in sunbursts and mingled together (it had started as very sedate pink, but then a rainbow took over)
A spot of cleaning up.
I should have photographed the other end of the table later on, where the boys and little girl were eating several kilos of fruit (we had just received our organic fruit and vegetable order from Beechlawn farm, and needless to say, the fruit didn’t last long) There was a huge bowl of skins and pips, and little ones with fruity faces!!
When Fergal came home, he was immediately roped into wand-making, so he and Grace went out to the sally garden to cut some 12 inch narrow wand-like sticks. He peeled the skin off the wand, then carved the skin on the handle.
Then we wrapped one of the wands in yarn;
it was so simple (well, I cannot vouch for the carving bit, but the yarn wrapping was!!) and there is a very happy little girl wandering around today in “fay-wee” (fairy!) mode!
The day was also punctuated with baking- my sister in law is due her third baby in a couple of weeks, and Fergal was to see her today- so I decided to make some shepherds pies and quiches for those many days where she will be too tired to cook, and some cookies too. If they hadn’t been scoffed so fast there would have been a second batch winging its way down to her, but the boys in our house, both big and small, made short work of them… and unsurprisingly, really: they are incredible moorish.
I’m quite sure I posted this recipe before, but can’t find it… So here it is: simplicity in itself.
(I must add before I do, that I borrowed this from my Gingerbread sister, who in turn borrowed it from Peggy. Peggy: we are eternally grateful)
White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies
Mix: 160g soft butter, 250g brown sugar, 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla essence
Add to this: 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt and 280g flour
To this, gently stir in: 50g oats, 150g white chocolate chips (I chopped up a bar of white chocolate, it yielded very pleasing large lumps of chocolate),
150g coarsely chopped dried cranberries (I have used sultanas and raisins when dried cranberries were impossible to find)
Take a piece of grease-proof paper, spoon dollops of cookie mix into a line, then roll up the paper into a sausage shape. Put in the fridge for at least half an hour until firm, then cut small round discs (approximately 1 cm), place on a lined oven tray and bake in a moderate oven for 10-12 minutes. Be warned: these will be completely soft when after 12 minutes, but firm up as soon as they cool down, so as soon as they turn golden (after 10-12 mins!!!) take them out or they will be like little rocks (I speak from vast experience)
These make really super gifts, either baked or wrapped like a sausage in greaseproof paper; I also try to keep a few rolls of the dough wrapped in greaseproof in the fridge (and they can be easily frozen) but the rolls-in-the-fridge-theory rarely lasts long…!
Our Little One and I did some baking this morning because we were going on a *cough* *cough* um… errr... picnic
(Had to say that quietly… wouldn’t want anyone to think we did nothing else…!!)
We started with the Rhubarb and Vanilla Tart- fragrant and delicious, a taste combination surely made in heaven… We have such a glut of rhubarb at the moment, so we picked some, chopped it into approx 1″ pieces, and cooked it with plenty of vanilla sugar and a vanilla pod
then baked for approximately 20 minutes, until the pastry was golden.
It was finished with a sprinkling of icing suger, and tasted divine!!!
(NOTE: I know the following sounds a bit like a palaver, but, oh the taste!! worth every second!!)
and baked it blind- fitted the pastry into the fluted tin,
covered it in tinfoil
and put in the dried chickpeas I keep specifically for this purpose.
We baked it for 10 minutes, then took off the foil and beans and baked it for five more minutes.
Meanwhile, I sauteed 2 onions in butter and oil, added 1 thinly sliced potato, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic after a few minutes. I tipped this into the tart base, spinkled liberally with soft goats cheese (Irish and organic, beyond delicious),
some smoked salmon and some cherry tomatoes and chopped fresh basil.
Completely delicious, can you hear my whimpers of delight?!
I’m just hoping these picnics last all summer long!!!
Our table on Christmas morning… the cake was a delicious Victoria Sponge (how dreadfully un-festive of us!!) decorated with a doily with a Christmas tree shape cut out of the centre.
I then dredged it with icing sugar, it is such a simple and effective decoration!
Today we spent the morning planning the garden for 2010, it’s such an exciting time of year!
Fergal has been emptying our compost bins and spreading it out on the dormant vegetable beds in preparation. The polytunnel needs clearing out, and even on these freezing days it is really pleasant being in there. But even more pleasant is when we are in the kitchen planning and baking!!
We went up to dear friends of ours for a truly delicious New Years Day dinner and came home with a few dozen duck eggs- aren’t the blue ones just gorgeous?
So I baked and baked today- currant buns, bread, fairycakes, scones- exactly what we needed after a week or two of biscuits and chocolate!!
It is a Saturday morning in September, and it is a really lovely morning (translation: dry, not raining), and our boys and Fergal are doing all those necessary Autumnal jobs- clearing out sheds and polytunnel for the winter, stacking wood, and finding “treasures” long buried in the garden. Baby is asleep, hence my getting a while to write this! I have made a few attempts already this morning, but our smallest boy (almost 5) just HAD to do some maths in a maths book, and I had to go looking for a workbook suitable for him to use. I couldn’t find one for his age-group, but found one for a couple of years older, but let him have a go anyway, and boy, was I impressed!!! Sometimes as we home-educate, I start questioning whether we have made “The Right Decision”, as we don’t have the same benchmarks that schools have; but then our children do something that is so quantifiable, and do it with such ease and aplomb, and I know that we are so definitely on the right track, and that they are right up there with their school-going peers. (Whew!! ha ha)
We have had a busy week, but packed so much in. I started back teaching painting here in our kitchen on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so that sparked a mammoth cleaning purge to have the house ‘just right’. And it really has been so lovely to come down to a TIDY house in the morning. I am endeavouring to do the Flylady (http://www.flylady.net/) every day to keep the space the way it is presently, and I’ve managed five days now, so that has to mean something…. (I hope) We are also painting and sorting out our bedroom, so I reckon there is something definitely in the air… Autumn, perhaps…
And in the middle of the madness, needing a quick break from the crochet (end in sight!!!!) I made some baby blankets. I had some gorgeous fleece, and other cotton fabrics and have been thinking about different combinations for a while. So I made this- quilted patchwork on one side, backed by this really gorgeous Laura Ashley cotton,and these: fleece on one side, backed with cotton on the other. I have had this farm fabric for years, never having quite the right project to use it in; and being a polka-dot nut, couldn’t resist this yellow and white polka-dat fabric; has to be my favourite.
I feel like I got the blanket bug out of my system for a bit, long enough I hope to finish our bench cushions!!, and adding to the stash of utter delights for our handmade@theNest weekend in October. On that utter-delights note, aren’t these patchwork cushions (above) just SO CUTE?These were made by Gemma, who is only 14, and another ultra-crafter!! Gemma is also home-educated, so for me it’s great to see older Home Ed kids, self motivated and making and creating: and isn’t it great to have that time to make and do… makes me want to take out my boxes of craft supplies and get stuck in!!
And on a final note, I went over to my friend Tara’s house yesterday. Tara’s mother and my mother were great pals when we were growing up, and by an absolute act of fate, we have ended up only 20 minutes drive away from each other, having not seen each other for about 15 years! So I can talk about people and places- Meeting Lane, Crib Road, Perrys, without having to ever explain where or who, and it really makes me feel like home. Tara and I have a bit of a (unspoken) bake-off, so I know that when I go over there she’ll feed me like a queen (her husband, Pat, (the “BatMan”, as he will hence be fondly known) always knows when I’ve been over- from the quality of the crumbs of cake left, ha ha ha)
Tara has also the most extraordinary aesthetic (just like her mother, I must say), and her house always reminds me of something from “Country Living”. Recently she renovated this beautiful (truly vintage!!) wall cupboard, and it is now filled with all these pieces of china she inherited from her Grandmother, and collected along the way. Note the painting she painted this week! And the scones (melt-in-the-mouth)!! all I can say is…
Boy, oh boy, Don’t I choose my friends well??!!