Friday, 27 November 2009

Cold and Bright

These days, it seems that I stir awake before the day does, and when I go out to work, the morning is still hazy and smudgy, as though it is a parcel still wrapped in tissue paper, waiting to be undone. When I come home at night, the day has been wrapped in a soft but cold blanket of night; the sky is inky dark, my breath hovers on the air in front of me, and the cold prickles at my nose. A thin sharp slice of moon is luminous in the sky and lights my way home.

There is a quiet kind of hush in my mind. I crave home and my home comforts. Being out at lunch time is good for me, as I get fresh air in my lungs and daylight on my skin, but I must learn not to go out into the town. I made that mistake today- I had to buy a birthday present, and visit another couple of shops. I had not brought lunch with me, so I needed to get that too. I felt so harried and hurried and hunted. I got the gift, but lunch was so hard...everywhere I went there were long queues or loud crowds, and when I eventually got back to work with a sandwich, the staffroom was heaving with people. Sometimes, I just need to be alone, away and quiet. I think that next time, I will take my walk in the park, and sit and watch a tree shiver away its last leaves, instead.

This is only a little post to say hello, because I need to be in bed before it is much later. Tomorrow, to Bury St Edmunds for the Christmas Fayre, and adventures there!

Goodnight, wherever you are! Don't forget to blast your sheets with the hairdryer before slipping between the covers!

Love
Mimi
xxx

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Wouldn't It Be Wonderful If...

..I have been reading a lot of books recently about healthy eating and healthy living, because in a year or so, Carl and I want to start thinking about a family, and it is really important to me to give our baby the best start in life by being as healthy as I can.

Now I don't know about you, but 'healthy eating' and 'new year, new you' and all that kind of thing often seems ever so dull. I have been lucky enough to stumble across a few lovely books though,(Sophie Dahl's cookbook, Vidal Sassoon's Year of Beauty and Health, Jean Kent's beauty book from the 50's, Dr Pamela Peeke's Fit for Life, Champney's Year of Beauty and Health) and they have left me feeling much more inspired.

I was sitting on the bus yesterday, when I sudenly thought wouldn't it be lovely if next year I spent eating foods that are delicious and health giving? Whipping up batches of pear and cinnamon muffins for breakfast, crunching my way through bowls of different varieties of apple, savouring squares of dark chocolate, and having a lunchbox full of scrumptious things to look forward to each day.

Wouldn't it be lovely if I spent next year taking walks to look at the changing seasons, and feeling fresh air in my lungs? If I take the time to do stretching to make me feel more elegant when I walk?

Wouldn't it be wonderful to think of a year of skin-softening bubble baths and deep conditioning hair masques? Toes painted red and hand cream rubbed in? Scalp massages and facials...

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have year of nurturing and taking care of myself? That just sounds so much more appealing to me than the idea of 'must lose weight' 'must eat healthily' and so on. Rather than thinking about inches lost, I want to concentrate on vitality gained. I know I have talked before about having new years targets rather than resolutions, but I am definitely going to tweak things a bit more this year, and have a 'wouldn't it be wonderful if...' list.

It will have things like 'wouldn't it be wonderful if I chose a beautiful photo album from paperchase, and use it to keep a record of our year? Sticking in cinema tickets and menus from restaurants and pressed leaves and so on' and 'wouldn't it be wonderful if I had a tea cosy I had knitted to keep my pot of tea warm?'

Do tell me, what would be on your 'wouldn't it be wonderful if...' list?

And now I promise not to get too ahead of myself, and will stop thinking about new years, and start thinking about Christmas instead!

Blustery Day

This week has been one of the blusteriest that I can remember recently. There have been cool days, milder days, days speckled with rain, but all of them have been windswept. When I went out this morning, it was difficult to walk it was so blowy, and my hair was whipped about my head like a medusa. It has been really invigorating. Somehow, the day feels scoured clean and bare. It was really bright when I walked into town, and had all the freshness of a February day.

Carl is off to Paris tomorrow for work- just a day trip...although he will have to leave horribly early, before even the birds outside have blinked awake, he will be safe home again with me my bed time. I can't believe that we live in a world where we can just pop to Paris for the day! I know he is not going to have much time for anything other than work, but I am sending him off with a pocketful of Euros and a wish for Marie Claire Idees magazine!

After lunch with some dear friends today, I went for a little wander around the shops. Although I should be looking for Christmas gifts, my attention was caught by books...for me! I was very good and resisted, but I shall certainly be ordering them from the library. There is one about celebrations by Lucia Van Der Post which is all about lovely things to do for Easter/Guy Fawkes/Christmas and so on. There was another by the author of French Women Don't Get Fat about women in the workplace, and another one that looked good too, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was!

The book that I just can't put down at the moment is 'Jean Harlow, An Intimate Biography' which I picked up for 50p in a charity shop. I have always admired Marilyn and Audrey, and of course I had heard of Jean Harlow, but I had no idea about the life she led until I started to read. When I have finished catching up with you, I am going to pour myself a bubble bath and sink into the foam with a cup of tea and this book!

But before I do that, I must unpack my shopping bag. A rather eclectic mix- a little egg cup in the shape of soldier for Carl. You see, I have my TV-AM egg cup, and the only other egg cup is a vintage flowery one! Seeing as he has a mug with soldiers on it (the kind in the red outfit and the big black hats, not camoflaged soldiers!) I decided this would go well with it. Lakeland sell them, and they even come with a little cutter that makes the toast into actual soldier shapes! I bought a little box of mini baubles in Paperchase, and also a big brown gift box that I am going to use to wrap up Mum's Christmas gift. Lastly, a tiny bottle of red nail polish, because really, you can never have too many! Later this evening I will be watching Spooks and painting my toes red!

I have been busy crocheting for Christmas, and still have a few cards left to make...I am off to Bury St Edmund's Christmas Fayre on Saturday with Mum, and am really looking forward to a hot chocolate laced with Baileys while I am there. I have done quite a lot of shopping, but I feel like I have quite a way to go. Still, I don't feel stressed at all, so that is good!

Our organic veggie box was delivered while I was out...I know that it sounds silly, but opening it really is like opening a treasure chest. Everything looks so tasty and lush, and seasonal. It makes me feel very River Cottagey! Tonight I am going to cook some white fish in a little parsley sauce, which I will serve with some creamy mashed potatoes and broccoli. Then tomorrow we will be having vegetable soup, and supper on Friday will be potted crab on walnut and cheese bread with a wintery salad. I feel hungry just thinking about it! Just as well satsuma season is here, as they are my favourite fruit of all!

This has been quite a long catch up...I do hope your tea has not gone cold! Just a few other little thoughts, while they are in my mind...I have been stitching felt robins for decorations. I think I might do a little tutorial on them. They are ever so simple, but look rather sweet. Cath Kidston are selling something similary for £12 for 3, and I have made about 8 for £3! My gift wrapping scheme this year is going to center around brown paper and bright red. I plan to wrap gifts first in either red tissue paper or red sparkly paper, then wrap over the top of that in brown paper, then tie a bright red ribbon on. I have also bought some slightly darker than brown paper paper, which has white polka dots on it. It is a slightly Scandinavian flavoured style, mixed with Country Living style.

It has been so lovely to catch up...wherever you are, I hope you are having a wonderful afternoon!

Love
Mimi
xxx

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Scrumptious Saturday

You would think that when I was woken up by rain and hale tapping at my window on my one Saturday off a month, I would be a bit dispointed...and to be honest, I would have thought so too, but I find myself very cheery this wet Saturday afternoon.

I spent last night drinking pink champagne with my lovely husband and lovely friend, and as he stayed over, I got to do lovely things like make up beds with hot water bottles, and cook pancakes for breakfast.

It is terribly blowy here today, and wet and cold too, but we ventured out as there was a craft fayre on in the little village where my library is. I have to confess that I felt a bit let down....a lot of the stalls were franchises, and a lot of the crafts not really to my taste, but I am very glad we went. I bought a stained glass disc for my godson- it has the nativity scene on it, and I am hoping that it will hang in his bedroom every year and become special to him. We also bought a jar of honey, and a Christmas card, as it had given me an idea for a card to make next year.

Then home, where I found that Tesco had delivered us some dvds- An Affair To Remember and Brief Encounter....what better films for snuggling on the sofa and watching on a wet Saturday?

There is a little gloom in my saturday though...another of my favourite blogs has gone. It is farewell to the Vintage Kitten- you will be missed! And if you are reading, I did try to read your last post, but it said that I had to be an invited reader. I will miss you...I hope that you may visit here some time. If you fancy an email any time, you can get me at mrsclaxton07 AT hotmail DOT co DOT uk

I hope that you are all having a scrumptious Saturday, and the rain soon passes away. Until then, have fun splashing in the puddles!

Love
Mimi
xxx

Sunday, 8 November 2009

To Bed With Grand Music

It is little secret that I love the wonderful publishing house of Persephone, and have discovered many a new friend amongst the dove grey covers of their books. Until now, I had not read Marghanit Laski, but the synopsis of To Bed With Grand Music on their website enticed me. It sounded as though it would have a little of the same flavour of that most wonderful of books, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.

I started reading it on Friday evening, and finished it on Saturday evening, when I was partaking of a midnight bath to try and bring some heat back into my chilled body after going to see the fireworks.

I was amazed at how some things never change- the book opens with a husband and wife saying farewell as he goes off to fight in the War. They talk of how much they will miss one another, and the husband consoles the wife by saying that he won't promise to be physically faithful, as he couldn't do without a woman for as long as the war might last, but he would only sleep with women that didn't matter, so it wouldn't really be cheating. As a wife (and I suspect, a woman!) I found this viewpoint flabbergastingly awful. Perhaps I am being naive, but I would hate to hear my husband saying such things to me! The reason things never change though is that quite a few years ago, just before I met my wonderful husband, I had a boyfriend who was going to go to Europe, exploring. On one of our last afternoons together, he gave me almost the same speech! Needless to say, that was the end of him, and thank goodness, as a short while later dear Carl came into my life.

But the point remains...if for a moment World War 2 seems a long time ago, suddenly, it seemed like it could be happening to a sister, or a friend.

The story itself is very interesting...the wife goes from being utterly sure of her own fidelity to a series of affaires, and the unravelling of her character, her persuasions and justifications are very fascinating to read. Alas, she is not a terribly likeable character, but the story is so well written, I devoured it and shall certainly read more of this author. I think she is going to be a new friend!

I have one thing troubling me though, and that is that I cannot decide for the life of me how I feel about the ending. In one way, it is very neat, as a certain occurance at the start is met full circle at the end; but another end it is very messy as much is unresolved.

I wonder if perhaps we are meant to infer and intuit more than I did, or perhaps the things that remain unresolved are not as important as I think they are...but I would have liked to have known what happens next!

Sparkles, Sparkles, Everywhere!

After work on Saturday, I wrapped up nice and warm, and took a walk from the top of the hill where my little library is all the way to the bottom of the hill to the fireworks display. It was cold, dark, and everything that bonfire night should be.

It was wonderful to see so many families venturing out into the dark together, and there was a really happy buzz in the air. Our path across the fields was lit by a series of energy saving lightbulbs hung at waist height from a string. Amazingly, they looked really, really pretty, like fairy lights.

At the end of the path, there was a huge bonfire ready to be lit. We knew that the fireworks would be good, but had not realised that the fire itself would be so impressive. When it was lit, we held our breaths while we waited for it to catch. There were whispers of 'smoke!' and 'oooh, oooh, a spark!' and then suddenly, the whole thing was alive with liquid fire, dancing a tango in the evening breeze.

After it had been burning for half an hour, and we were just starting to get warm, the first screeching rocket heralded the start of the fireworks. They really were beautiful, and a good mix of sparkles, bangs, and starbursts. There were three 'sets' and then the finale, when our eyes barely had time to drink in one explosion of magic before the next was starting, and that had barely registered before another one went off. It built to a crescendo, and there was a split second of quiet before everyone broke into applause.

I have never liked the bangs of fireworks, but do love the prettiness in the sky. I wish I could capture some of their magic, but on the way home, Carl and I were talking about the magic of them, and despite all the articles in newspapers recently proclaiming that Halloween has overtaken Guy Fawke's Night, I couldn't help but wonder how they could think that, when across the country there are fields and fields of people, families, friends, old, young, all gathered to share in upturned-face wonder at the spectacular show of the fireworks.

Wherever you are, I hope that you have enjoyed the sparkle of fireworks this weekend.

Love, Mimi xxx

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Remember, Remember, The Fifth of November...

I walked home this evening in the dark, with the cold nipping at my nose and a smile on my lips. I can't help but smile when there is the scent of woodsmoke in the air, and the fizz-whiz-sparkle-crackle of fireworks going off.

There is something magical about fireworks to me, a kind of happy feeling I get, like when I read the opening section of the Lord of the Rings and read about the grand party, with fireworks. One of the things I love about them is that they are very seasonal things, and mark a particular night...although in recent years, people seem to let them off on almost any night over a month either side of November 5th itself, which I do not like!

Because it is what I think of still as a 'school night' we are not going out tonight; instead, later, after peppermint hot chocolate, we will go outside and write our names in the cold night air with golden sparklers. On Saturday, we are going to the village firework show, where Carl will stand behind me with his hands over my ears, because the bangs hurt them.

We will eat jacket potatoes and hot tea, and ooh and ahh, and I shall go home filled with the wonder of the magic of fireworks, and how much they can warm your heart on a cold autumn night.

They are not the only heart warming thing, though...you, my lovely readers are. When I logged on to post this, and to wish you all a Happy Guy Fawkes Night, I found such kind comments...it really does help to know there are such kind wellwishers out there, thank you. I hope that your bonfire night is extra sparkly, with toffee in abundance!

Love, Mimi xxx

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Things I Have Learnt Today

Already, at 6:00 in the evening, the inky darkness is pressed against my windows, and I am sitting in a pool of lamplight. I have not done some of the things that I thought that I would (or should!) today, such as making some Christms cards, or working on Christmas gifts, but it has been a lovely day.

One of my dear friends visited me and I cooked my favourite green risotto (it is a Nigella recipe, where you puree some cooked peas with butter, parmesan, black pepper and nutmeg, then beat it into the risotto at the end of cooking time), I have had a hot bath, many cups of tea, read a little, visited the internet a little; and this is what I have learnt today:

1) Sometimes, having a day not go to plan is a good thing. I have not made any Christmas cards today, but I have had a thoroughly lovely day anyway

2) It is wise to check with your little brother before you buy something from his amazon wish list. My suspicions were raised that it was not very current when there were only two items on it, and both of those were no longer available new...luckily I checked before buying, because he had forgotten he had a wish list, and already had both things on it!

3) Just as you think a particular magazine is losing its sparkle, the next issue, the one that you think will be the last one you buy turns out to be fantabulous and amazing. Easy Living has a fab gold notebook for 'bright ideas' free with it, a great interview with Kirstie Allsopp (one of my favourite ladies!) and was completely back on form.

4) Aforesaid lovely Kirstie Allsopp has made a followup to Kirstie's Homemade Home....Kirstie's Homemade Christmas, to be shown in December on Channel 4. I can't wait!!

5) Scarlett Johansson is multi talented! I have always loved her as an actress, and wish I could emulate her retro-hollywood glamour look, but now discover she can sing, too! (Click on the title of this post to listen, and admire her new brunette look). I think she sounds a little like Amy Winehouse....without all the drink and drugs!

6) Most of the ladies I know love Richard Armitage, and will be glued to the tv tonight to watch him in Spooks. None of us fancy Harry, but are all very sure that they must not kill him off, or we shall be marching on BBC HQ!

I hope you are having a scrumptious snuggly evening,

Love, Mimi xxx

A New Book

Although working in a library, and being a library member saves me thousands of pounds a year in books, I do still spend some of my pennies on them. Sometimes, there is a book that I just can't wait to read, and other times there are books that are so scrumptious, I know that I want to own them, not just borrow them.

One book that I was very excited about was Cath Kidston's new book, Sew. Although I enjoyed her previous book, Make, I was a little disappointed that there was not much actual making in it, mainly embellishing bought things. (Which is not a bad thing in itself, but much better if she had called the book Embellish instead!)

I started to hear that Sew had very positive reviews, and I doubted that the library would buy it, becuase it comes with the fabric and haberdashery to make a bag, so decided to treat myself.

I found it at rather a good price on amazon, and ordered it early to avoid the postal strikes. And waited. And waited. And waited some more! I reported it missing not once but twice, so they sent me a new copy, and a month after my first order, it arrived.

It makes me want to pull out my sewing basket right away and start stitching. Apart from the bag, there are so many lovely projects in it. Naturally the majority of them are made in Cath Kidston fabric, but you could of course use other...although she has started a range of craft fabric which is cheaper than her normal range, so for a special project, the cost should not prove prohibitive.

There is a lovely pattern for bird or heart shaped lavender bags...I think they would make lovely Christmas gifts! Also, a patchwork blanket that I would like to make next time one of my friends has a baby.

They styling in the book is really delicious, and makes me want to embark on a Cath Kidston spree...but as I have been Christmas Shopping online today, and also have a sizeable stack of Christmas magazines to work through, I shall be restrained!

New Nightie

Much of the shopping that I have been doing recently has been Christmas shopping- but I was in a shop with Mum yesterday lunch time, when I saw something that I just had to have!

Now, curiously, considering that dogs terrify me, I love Scottie Dogs (well, pictures of them, not the creatures in the flesh) and as Mum was trying on coats, I spotted a nightie with a Scottie Dog on the front (click on the title of this post to go have a look at it!)

There were also some sparkly red socks that seemed to go with it very well, and before I knew it, I was at the till buying them!

You see, most of my nighties are all very pretty...silky little things that make me smile. But none of them are what I would call cozy, and with November bringing chilly evenings and mornings, cozy is just what I want.

I wore them last night, and was so toasty in bed....I think I will be getting ready for bed early tonight just so I can wear them for longer!

An early night is just the thing for a chilly evening- a hot bath first, and then to bed with a hot water bottle cover, the lamp on low, and an Agatha Christie novel. Perhaps Radio 4 in the background, so I can hear the hourly beep-beep-beeps warningn me when I have read too long and it is time to turn out the lights and snuggle down to sleep.

I hope that when you go to bed tonight, you are just as cozy as can be!

Love, Mimi xxx

Marzipan Acorns

I love autumn, it speaks to my soul somehow. Walking through mist wreathed mornings always seems special; spotting a spider's web jewelled with dew always makes me smile. I have an autumn wreath on my front door, and cinnamon coffee at my side. There is so much that is cozy and blissful about this time of year.

Just recently I have been very drawn to owls, oak leaves and acorns. I don't know why, they just please me indescribably. Mum made us the most beautiful curtains for our bedroom- they are a lime green with swirls of orange and brown acorns all over them. I like to draw the curtains early just so I can see them!

A few weeks ago, I was in my kitchen, looking over my stores, and planning a menu for Brunch Club (we held our annual pumpkin carving party, more of which in another post). I think that one of the nicest things about planning a menu is to plan a little sweet something to go with coffee. Just as you think everything is over, the food has been eaten and the plates are (hopefully!) empty, out comes a little something extra. Sometimes I make peppermint creams or fudge, but I wanted something really autumnal.

My gaze fell upon a block of marzipan, and all of a sudden, I knew just what to do!

Mimi's Marzipan Acorns

Make yourself a cup of cinnamon coffee, put on the radio, and pull up a chair to the kitchen table.

Divide a block of marzipan in half (I like to use the natural coloured marzipan, not the golden one There are recipes online to make your own marzipan from scratch, but I didn't fancy doing that this time!) Roll out one half, and stamp out some autumn leaf shapes (I used a maple leaf cutter as I don't have an oak leaf cutter). Draw on some veins with the point of a knife, then drape them over a rolling pin or similar, so they dry slightly curled.

Colour the other half of the marzipan a light green, or brown, depending on what food colouring you have. Watching the colour marble throughout the marzipan then become even as you knead is such fun!

Pull balls of marzipan off, and roll each into an egg shape.

Melt some dark chocolate, then dip the bottom third of each acorn into the chocolate (the fatter end is the end you want to dip).

Let the excess chocolate dribble off, then sit the chocolate dipped end of the acorn into a little bowl of vermicelli sprinkles.

Put a little dab of melted chocolate onto each marzipan leaf, then sit an acorn on top.

Serve to friends with hot coffee and a smile!

Hello There..

Normally when I have been away for so long, I breeze back in with with tales of adventures and other such lovelinesses which have been taking up my time. Alas, this time, I have sadder news.

The last few weeks have not been without their charms, and I do indeed have some scrumptious things to relate, but they have been overshadowed by a death and a hospital visit.

Carl's Grandad was taken ill a few months ago, whilst on holiday in Thailand. He had an emergency operation on a brain tumour there, and when he was well enough to travel, returned home where they discovered a secondary tumour, which they thought was benign, and that he may have a year or even more left to him. Sadly it is so hard to be accurate with these things, and a week ago Monday we were told to get to the hospital if we wanted a chance to say goodbye.

I am glad that we were there, because he did indeed die that night, just after we got home. It was terrible though. I have never seen anyone so ill, and even worse, heard breathing so painful and laboured. In a way I hope I never do again, because it is hideous to have to sit passively through such suffering, but then again, knowing we were there for him and one another was very special.

The worst thing is that we do not yet know when the funeral will be because of the operation in Thailand- the coroner is involved. I think it will be easier in a way, once we know when. Even whenthings are bad, it is easier to cope when you know what your situation is- it is the not knowing that is difficult.

Then, on Friday, Dad was taken in to hospital with heart pains. He has had heart operations before, and it looks very much as though he will need another. The good thing is that in himself, he feels well, and is very bright. Again, we are waiting though. The specialist needs to see him to decide if he is having an operation, and when. I feel like so much is unknown at the moment.

But, as I said, the last few weeks have not been all sadness. I have tales for you of marzipan acorns, adventures at the sewing machine, walks in autumn mists, and other such lovely things. So, put the kettle on, and lets catch up.

Love
Mimi
xxx

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Vegetable Box Soup

I would not say that we ate an unvaried diet before we started getting our organic fruit and vegetable box delivered, but even after just three deliveries, we are definitely eating a much wider selection of treasures!

One of my favourite things is the coming up of new recipes with which to use up the treasures. Especially towards the end of the week, where some of the treasures are really ready to be used up. I had a big bunch of kale to use on Monday, and a friend coming to supper. What to cook? I remembered a rather tasty kale and turkey meatball soup that I used to make, but I had no turkey nor any other kind of meat with which to make meatballs. There was rosemary in that soup though, and that would definitley go with kale. What else, though, what else? A quick rummage through the box, and this is what I whipped up:

Vegetable Box Soup

On with a pinny! I have a Cath Kidston one made out of really heavy fabric...and big 70s style flowers. This kind of cooking calls for a more rustic pinny!

Peel and chop an onion, and soften on a low heat with a splash of oil or whisper of butter.

Peel and cube three medium potatoes, and throw in with the onion. Sprinkle over a good shake of dried rosemary, and stir it all together.

Add enough stock to cover everything, and more besides.

Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potato is softening. Snip up the kale and throw it in, simmering for another 3 or 4 minutes.

Turn the whole lot into a liquidizer (I used my beloved Vitamix!) and whiz. It will be really too thick, so thin with some milk, grind in some black pepper, add a whisper of nutmeg, then whiz again.

You should have the most wonderfully vibrant green soup. Pour back into the pan to heat through. I served mine with croutons and grated cheese....bliss!

PS when it is time to do the washing up, you will of course need a pretty tea towel to make you smile. There are some gorgeous ones free with Easy Living magazine this month!

A Wet Wednesday in October

Sometimes, wet rainy days are gloomy and dull, but happily the soft pattering of rain drops against my windowpane, and the soft rain-scented breeze that drifts in serves only to make me feel more cozy.

When I woke up this morning to the beep-beep-beeps marking the hour on Radio 4, it was grey and blowy, but not yet rainy. In my nightie, I cooked up a vertiable feast of an Autumn breakfast, the perfect start to a midweek day off.

Bramley Apple Pancakes with Pear, Rum and Cinnamon Compote, and Ginger Marscapone Cream

Rubbing the sleep from your eyes, and sipping tea from a flowery mug, peel and chop 2 pears and throw into a little milk pan along with a large handful of raisins, a walnut of butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a shake of vanilla sugar and a splash of water. Pop on a gentle heat to bubble away.

Meanwhile, peel and core a bramley apple, throw into a small pyrex bowl with a little water, and microwave until soft (or if you have another small pan, cook on the hob). Measure about 4oz into a food processor along with a sprinkle of cinnamon, 4oz plain flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1oz caster sugar, and egg and 75ml milk. Blitz until you get a thick batter.

Making the ginger marscapone cream is easy peasy- stir a small tub of marscapone with a similar sized tub of double cream (about 200ml). When the marscapone has stopped feeling lumpy, pour in a glug of syrup from a jar of stem ginger, put in an electric whisk (or a regular one if you are feeling energetic so early in the morning!) and whisk until it becomes a beautifully thick billowing cloud.

Lightly coat the bottom of a small frying pan with oil, spoon in some batter and cook your pancakes, one by one. The mixture should make about 8.

Make a stack of 4 pancakes on each of two flowery plates, then spoon a generous heaping of compote on top, and add a swirl of cream. Take back to bed with a cup of vanilla coffee, and eat while listening to the radio, and contemplating the delights of the day yet to come.

After a hot shower, I left our little flat, glad that it was not raining, and went into town to meet a friend for lunch. While we were in town, I picked up the Halloween issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine, which I have been waiting to come out for ages. Knowing that the Abel and Cole man was going to be delivering while I was out, I also bought some ingredients to make dinner. I have some chard to cook, and I found a recipe for chard and salmon cooked in coconut milk. I am going to add some courgette and carrot, and make a thai inspired supper.

On the way home, the drizzle started, so I put up my polka dot umbrella. I got home, and was slightly astonished at how dark it was, and only just past 3 o'clock in the afternoon! Feeling cold and chilled, I decided a hot bath was in order, and after that repaired to the living room in my dressing gown with a Hercule Poirot novel and a cup of tea. It seems ridiculously indulgent to have the lights on so early, but I will be switching them off before Carl gets home and lighting candles instead.

Later on, I plan to sit and knit the rest of my hot water bottle cover (it is destined to be a present; it is in a soft grey cashmere) and watch the first episode of the BBC adaptation of Emma, of which I have heard mixed reviews.

I like to think on rainy days, we make our own sunshine...and the lovely people who come and visit me here are definitely rays of sunshine in my day! To Nita, I have not seen Housewife 49, but my Mum has (and read Nella Last's War too), and she loves them both. If you decide to get it, do let me know what you think!

I hope very much that your Wet Wednesday is just as scrumptious as can be!

Love, Mimi xxx

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Things I Love Thursday

One of my favourite blogs to read, http://www.midorigreenuk.blogspot.com/ also happens to be written by one of my favourite friends! Most Thursdays, she does a TILT post...Things I Love Thursday. Such a lovely idea, and as I have been reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's wonderful Simple Abundance again, and thinking of things I am grateful for before I go to sleep, this is good practise! Although I am going to try and make my TILT posts about things that give me joy, rather than just things I am grateful for (although the two lists would often be very similar!).

So, without further ado, pour yourself a cup of tea, and enjoy my very first TILT!

I love...

...the first day of a new month. Wondering a little wistfully where September went to, but adoring writing out 'Thursday 1st October 2009' just to see the words on the page

...the bunch of pale pink, shocking pink and deep purple dahlias that my Mum bought for me at the WI market this morning

...wearing my new damson coloured tights with a purple jumper, black skirt and silver ballet shoes...and a man stopping me in the street to say he loved my look!

...a hot shower that makes the whole bathroom steamy

...my new fringe

...the prospect of an early night

...logging on to blogger to make a little post and finding such kind comments waiting for me

Love, Mimi xxx

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Savoury Supper

Quite often, by the time I am walking home from work, other people are cooking their suppers. I love to walk along and smell all the savoury scents wafting from steamed up kitchen windows. One of the best compliments Carl has paid my cooking was when he came through the door and exclaimed 'I really hoped that was our dinner I could smell, and it is!'.

The supper that I have bubbling on the stove right now is not the most fragrant of dishes, but it is one that I love to cook, and I like to think that I would like to come home to. I could have sworn that I had shared this recipe with you before, but I have trawled my archives and cannot find a trace of it. So, do forgive me if I am repeating this, but here is how to make

Rice, Bacon and Cheese Savoury Supper Dish

Cook this when the afternoon melts into the twilight of evening earlier than you can believe is possible. Better for a day with brisk breeze or a hint of a chill in the air. Listen to Radio 4 while you are making it, and wear a flowery pinny.

Put 3 eggs on to boil (you can get away with 2 if that is all that you have in your pantry)

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan gently fry an onion until it is soft.

Throw in some snipped up bacon. My original scribbled recipe calls for 7oz, but usually I use 2 rashers, sometimes 3.

When the bacon smell is wafting around your kitchen, stir in 8oz of brown rice, then follow this with 1 1/2 pints chicken stock. Give it a good stir about, then put the lid on, turn the heat down low so it is just simmering, and put the timer on for 40 minutes.

By now, your eggs should be boiled, so run them under the cool tap, and save for later.

Make yourself a cup of tea, and go and curl up on the sofa with a good book, going through to stir the supper from time to time so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the 40 minutes are up, turn the rice mixture into an ovenproof dish, and set the oven to a medium heat.

Peel the boiled eggs and slice them, then arrange on top of the rice.

Melt 1/2 oz butter in a small pan, and stir in 1tbsp of flour. Then slowly, slowly, add 1/4 pint of milk. Stirring, stirring, bring it to the boil, bubble for a few moments then turn out the heat. Season with pepper and nutmeg, and pour this over the rice and eggs.

Scatter 3tbsp breadcrumbs and 5oz grated cheese over the top of the sauce.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or you could grill it until the cheese bubbles.

This makes enough to serve two for supper tonight, and then will serve two again a few days later, this time perhaps with a sausage or two by the side. When you are washing up, don't forget to dry up using a tea towel that makes you smile! I think my most favourite tea towel is one that I was given when I got married, that has all the different wedding anniversaries on it. One of you who is kind enough to come and read my little blog asked about my idea of embroidering your intitials into the corner of your tea towels. The way I do it is with rather simple and rustic cross stitch, although having done a short course in crewel work, I did do one in satin stitch. You back stitch the outline of what you want to embroider, and then make stitches between each edge like the rungs of a ladder, only much closer together. That takes a lot of time though! For more tea towel loveliness, see here

http://brocantehome.typepad.com/brocante_home/2005/01/save_our_teatow.html

and here

http://aliciapaulson.com/Pleasant_Kitchen_Dishtowels.pdf

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Thoughts By Candlelight

It has been one of those days where the soft autumn afternoon seems to melt slowly into the evening. The light becomes half light then twilight, gloaming quietly into dark. This is one of my favourite times of day; a quiet 20 minutes all alone in our little flat, a candle burning brightly, and everything seems soft. Oftentimes, I bustle and start to get dinner ready. Sometimes, I sit with a cup of tea and just think, or read.

Tonight, I did not even put the kettle on. Tiredness seems settled into my bones, and the thought of filling up the kettle and setting it to boil all seems too much. And yet I am not sitting here drained, I am sitting here replete somehow, filled with the day and ready for bed. I will be taking with me the book I am reading for Book Club. I have said before how difficult I find Book Club books, and indeed, I very nearly didn't read this one at all. You see I was pretty sure I would be too tired to go out Friday, and I didn't much care for the look and feel of this book. But then I had a phone call today to say the lady who was going to host the meeting couldn't, and so as the unofficial leader, I suddenly had to agree to host it at mine...which meant reading the book. I started it on the bus on the way home, and after a bumpy first chapter, I am utterly in love with the book. It speaks to me deeply, and some of the ideas the writer has are ideas that are part of me. The turns of phrase are delicious. He uses a phrase which runs something like 'the sleeve of the evening sky was embroidered with flies' and I am so glad I discovered this writer.

Who is this writer? What is his book? Well he is Niall Williams, and the book is Only Say The Word. I fear I am not going to do it justice, but the narrator is trying to write, and we hear both the story of his boyhood and the unfolding story of having lost his wife. It sounds strange, but works beautifully. He has just gone to university to study English, and loves the same poets as I- especially Yeats. I want to read on and on and on, and am afraid I shall not be able to stop talking at Book Club!

It is not just reading I have been doing this evening but thinking too. We were eating some of the organic bread that we had in our Abel and Cole delivery, and I was struck by how filling it is, how heavy and rich it is. Not at all like ready sliced bread. It is made by hand, risen slowly, and baked in a wood oven. At around £1.50 a loaf, it is a touch more expensive than regular bread, but not much. I think it is easier to digest because it has been given time to rise, not forced to do it quickly to maximise profit through the aid of strange chemicals. Then it came to me, wouldn't it be wonderful if instead of labelling things with the price, we labelled them with the time it took to produce them? If chickens were priced in days not pounds, so we could better grasp how appalling it is to grow them faster than their legs can carry them. Dear Carl pointed out that people would want the fastest things because they are cheaper, but I like to think that not all of us would. That for us, those of us who love vintage things and cooking and knitting, even though it takes hours to knit what could be machine made in minutes, those of us who take little sips of tea, the things that take slightly longer are worth waiting for.

I wish you could be with me this evening. I would put my whistling kettle onto boil, spoon tea into the pot, and pick out my prettiest flowery mugs. We would sit here in the bright candlelight and perhaps work at knitting or crocheting, read favourite passages from books or poems aloud, and catch up with one another. Wherever you are, there is a cup of tea waiting for you here at my table!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Autumn Evening Ritual

I always feel slightly uncomfortable with the word ritual...it has a ring of witchcraft about it! Until I find a better word for it, I use it to describe a lovely thing, in the manner of Puttery Treats at www.brocantehome.co.uk (think embroidering initials on tea towels, setting up a breakfast porridge tray and such scrumptious things) that I do regularly, and usually at the same kind of time.

I don't do them forever though, or the shine wears off. Sometimes it is good to retire one, even if it is just for a month or two or three, so there is time and room for a new one. The change of the seasons is perfect for this. One of my little rituals that I have started doing is to go round our little flat at about quarter past seven or thereabouts, and turn out all the lights, except for one. The one that I leave on is the lamp on my writing desk in the corner of our living room. Then I light candles all around the rest of the room. I could light them in the other rooms in the flat too, but I worry about leaving them unattended. I do have them at the ready though. There is a Yankee Candle in a jar by the pretty mirror on my dressing table, and a whole row of votive candle holders along the side of the bath. That way, when dear Carl comes home from work, he comes into a softly lit happy home. There is something magical about the flickering of candlelight, and it feels so good to have a break from just electrical lighting.

Other little things that I want to do for autumn, but more in the puttery treat line than rituals are to hang my autumn wreath on our door, and to buy some cinnamon syrup for coffee. The lovely Vintage Kitten visited from her scrumptious blog at www.thevintagekitten.blogspot.com to share her wonderful tip of using cloves and candles together- check the comments on my previous posts to read it! Thanks VK! I shall definitely be trying that. Whilst I was in town today, I bought some thick tights from Marks and Sparks in a dusky purple shade. I love that the name of the colour is Damson. So much more evocative than just 'purple'. I plan to wear them with a jumper in the same shade, a black skirt and black ballet pumps. I saw some wonderful ballet pumps in Dorothy Perkins this morning- they had pompoms on the toes- but alas they did not have them in my size. I would really like a pair though!

I will leave you with dusky thoughts of autumn leaves and cinnamon coffee and the scent of cloves wafting across a candle-bright room. I hope you are having a scrumptious evening!

How Long Was I Gone For?

I ventured forth into town again today, this time to meet my Mum. As you know, we usually go on an adventure on our Friday off, but I am still too sleepy for such things, wonderful as they may be. Then Mum came up with a great idea- we would meet in my town rather than hers, and have breakfast-brunch instead of lunch, which meant I could go home and have a good sleep in the afternoon. Bliss!

The bliss of being outside in the autumnish morning (there is not that little nip in the air so characteristic of a true autumn morning!) has not worn off, and nor has just being among people. We had breakfast in Cafe Rouge...a pot of tea for her, a latte for me, and a Croque Madame apiece. It is so relaxed in there, and every time I go in, I think I must find out what cd they play so I can have it in the background at home, close my eyes and pretend I am in Paris.

After that, we went for a very gentle stroll around the shops. And here I had pause to blink. By my calculations, a week ago yesterday was my last proper day out, and then I was in the house until yesterday...but to look at the shops, I think I must surely have been at home for a month or more! For suddenly, there is Christmas, everywhere! Mince pies, gift wrap, baubles...you name it, it is there to buy.

Now I have rather conflicted feelings about all this. If truth be told, I have been working on Christmas gifts and cards at home for a while now. But in my defense, nearly every gift I am giving this year is home made. And most of them are not Christmassy in themselves. So I don't feel like I am doing Christmas things when I am sitting and knitting in the evening, or going to the shops to buy a square of white felt..for people who craft, we need to start early if we want to really enjoy the making of the gifts, rather than end up in an awful flurry towards the end.

The last few years, I have been able to really enjoy the Christmas season because I started planning early. It is blissful to sit in Starbucks sipping a peppermint bliss hot chocolate, knowing everything that needs to be done has been done.

But...I really don't want to see overtly Christmas things on the shelves in September. The Co-Op near my work had advent calendars in August! I cannot see the point (although I must confess that I have not tried very hard!) of having mince pies for sale which go out of date before it even gets to November, let alone Christmas! The most ridiculous thing of all is a cardboard sign for a display of Cadbury gold coins and snowmen with the wording 'Putting the Magic Back Into Christmas'. Now I know Mr Cadbury couldn't hear me, but I really wanted to scream 'no you are not, you are draining it away!' How can children be excited and really enjoy the build up to Christmas when it starts before Halloween? How can any of us?

The last Christmas or two I have followed the scrumptious plan at http://www.brocantehome.co.uk/ which is just right for me. The lovely Alison guides you through putting together a card list complete with addresses that you can use year after year, sitting down and having a good think about things early in the season, and then doing scrumptious things little by little until you wind up on Christmas Eve with a house which is all of a twinkle with the sparkle of candlelight and happiness, mulled wine in hand, peace in your mind.

I am lucky enough to be friends with the lovely Midori Green in real life as well as blog life. She has written a lovely post about planning ahead for Christmas. We both have similar thoughts-if I had to put mine succinctly, I would say that I am all for planning ahead, I just don't want to be bludgeoned with Christmas every time I go to the shops from September onwards! Read her lovely post here:http://midorigreenuk.blogspot.com/2009/09/christmas-planning-part-1.html

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Autumn Morning

When I woke up this morning, I still had the whispers of the headache that started last Thursday, and still felt very sleepy....but more than any of that, delicious happiness in the knowledge that I am now officially out of quarantine! I am going to take it very, very gently, but just knowing that I can go outside and mix with other people is lovely, if a little overwhelming. I was talking to my sweet friend Adrian last night, who had swine flu two weeks before me, and he said that although he craved human company (and he was in a worse position than me, because he lives alone) he also felt like he had lost some of his confidence and found the thought of going out with all those people a bit daunting.

So I am going to arm myself with my reddest lipstick (the first time I have thought about makeup in a week, let alone wear any!) and take a gentle walk in the autumn sunshine to procure a pile of crisp new magazines that I will then work my way through this afternoon with a steaming pot of tea.

I must concentrate hard on not chattering too much to the poor girl at the checkout or the man who sells the chrysanthemums! Musnt't scare anyone! But so, so ready for fresh air in my lungs, breeze in my hair and sun on my face. I have a feeling that I shall be repairing home for an afternoon nap though! I still find the smallest effort leaves me so tired. The good thing is that I have learned to appreciate naps. Before I was poorly, I was firmly in the camp that saw why other people liked naps, but could not like them myself. I always found myself a little groggy and sick feeling when I woke up. Now though, I can snuggle and snooze with the best of them!

Wishing you all the most scrumptious of autumn mornings!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Swine Flu...

I suppose really, when you consider my job, it was really only a matter of time before it happened....and when you consider that we were having a fierce debate the other day about whether we would want the vaccine or not, really, it was asking for trouble...

Since Thursday night when I came home with a head that was not my own, I have spent much of the time sleeping and aching and sleeping and taking Tamiflu and wondering when my head would become my own again. They don't tell you that the Tamiflu makes you seasick. Or that even as the flu starts to pass, you will be left utterly, ridiculously drained. I am both incredibly vexed and a little amused at myself...I get up to make a cup of tea and find myself yawning and in need of a nap!

But today I have made it into clothes for the first time, and am sitting on the sofa instead of being buried in bed. I am still napping lots, but I have the energy to come online! I have so much to catch up with you all about....there are little things, like the pretty autumn leaves that I have been snapping, and bigger things like the back garden afternoon tea we held for my Mum's birthday. I am so worried that when I sit down to write some posts, that I will forget things that were important at the time. I am going to have to look back over the photos that I have been taking to remind myself of what happened!

Even without a fluey head, I find that time seems to pass so quickly...things that I have been looking forward to, savouring the thought of suddenly happen, and before I know it, it is a week later. How does it happen?

I don't want this to be a gloomy post though, so here are some happy thoughts...I have a beautiful bunch of Honesty in a cheerful red vase which looks so beautiful to me. I will have to take a photograph so you can enjoy it too. It is a really abundant bunch, and it only cost 50p from the WI market last week! I want to keep it as it is for a long time, but when I was blog visiting just now, I saw a beautiful thing where someone had glued individual papery honesty circles into heart shapes to hang up. So pretty! The only thing that would make this bunch even nicer would be teeny tiny fairy lights twinkling amongst them!

The air is scented with leek at the moment...now that doesn't sound as scrumptious as it really is! For a while now I have been thinking about how we do our shopping and cooking, and have tried out several ways of doing it, from a monster monthly supermarket delivery to buying a little bit every day. Today a nice man from Abel and Cole delivered our first organic mixed vegetable and fruit box, and it looks utterly scrumptious. I want to post about this in detail, so am trying to restrain myself from talking too much about it here, but oh, it all looks so, so good! (And they included oranges, just as I was thinking that I should be eating plenty of vitamin C so I don't go down with anything else!).

I will leave you now as I feel another nap coming on...but I will be back, and with pictures too! But before I go, now that we are properly into Autumn, I am starting to think about a signature scent for our little flat, and a signature flavour too. I think that the flavour is going to be cinnamon- think cinnamon lattes, cinnamon on my morning porridge, cinnamon biscuits....but what shall I have to burn in my oil burner, and drop onto the wicks of our candles? I think that my signature autumn colour is probably going to be brown (predictable, I know!) with dashes of pumpkin thrown in.

I would love to hear about your ideas!

I hope you are all well and nobody else is suffering from flu, colds, sniffles or other afflictions that stop you enjoying these scrumptious Autumn days. If you are, remember, a drop of olbas oil on a vintage hanky, and a dash of vaseline around your nose so you don't end up doing a Rudolph impression!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Mimi Makes Cupcakes
















One of my favourite things in the world is to bake cupcakes. They are such pretty happy things, and if they are not particularly nourishing for the body, they certainly nourish the soul! These are dense and very chocolatey; a devils foodcake base topped with chocolate buttercream icing. But don't worry, they are not as naughty as they sound....the only actual chocolate is the vermicelli sprinkles on top...the rest of the chocolateyness comes from cocoa which we all know is ever so good for you!

For these chocolate cupcakes, take one flowery pinny, add The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook to a sunny Thursday afternoon, and mix with The Puppini Sisters on your ipod. Beat together a bowl of happiness from Marks and Spencers, put good wishes and cake batter into each cake case, and bake in a warm until the house smells of chocolate and happiness. When they are cool, whip up some icing, get out your favourite piping bag and pipe on top an unfeasibly large swirl of icing, sprinkle with sparkly thoughts and chocolate vermicelli, then present to your husband when he comes home from work! Oh, and before you open the front door, make sure you have wiped the smudge of icing off of your nose!





To Market, To Market

Even though I had the day off today, I still got up and left home early to catch the bus that gets me into the village where my little library is for 9:00. Why? Because just opposite my little library, there is a sports hall, in which, on a Thursday at 9:00 is the most wonderful W.I. Country Market. So although I could have been tucked up in bed sipping tea today, I sallied forth instead.

It has only been a few months, but Mum and I have taken to meeting at the market, doing a little shopping together, having a cup of tea, and then she goes home and I pop over the road to open up. It really makes me look forward to Thursdays!

When I first ventured into the market, I was not entirely sure what to expect, but for some strange reason, I fully expected things to be...expensive. I am happy to say that I was utterly wrong! There is a lady who sells the eggs from the hens who live in her barn, wander outside for a scratch in the sunshine and eat an organic diet, and for this she charges £1 a half-dozen. The garden produce stall is one of my favourites- everything is in season, and so fresh that it often has the dirt on still! Today I bought a bag of spinach, a cucumber, a bag of apples, a punnet of blackberries and a bag of runner beans for less than £3. Sometimes there is a sausage stall, but today instead there was the wood carving man. I bought Carl a little dibber for him to dib with when he gardens, turned from a piece of oak and less than £2! Another favourite stall is the 'ready meal' table, where you can buy a little foil dish of liver and onion, shepherds pie, or lamb kashmir curry; individual rabbit pies, and little sausage rolls with the tastiest, flakiest pastry. There is a shelf of gleaming pots of chutneys and pickles, and a sister shelf of jams...and not just strawberry, but things like kiwi marmalade and peach preserves. Between these two shelves lays the baking stall, and here you can find plain, cheese or fruit scones baked freshly that morning, cheese straws, fairy cakes, ginger and date loaf, lemon drizzle cake, bread pudding studded with glace cherries and dried apricots, loaves of bread....I could go on and on and on!

And after I have gone on and on buying things, I usually have a bag crammed full, and still change from £10! Then Mum and I take a seat at one of the little tables, covered with a green gingham table cloth and adorned with a jam jar of flowers, and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. You go to the serving hatch, and pay 75p, and are given a cup of filter coffee and the instruction to 'help yourself to a biscuit'. Then we sit and compare purchases, talk about books, and say hello to people as they go by.

Normally, after fifteen minutes or so my phone alarm goes off, and I go to work, but today Mum and I decided to pop to the supermarket in her town so she could buy a new ironing board. She drove us through the back lanes, and we suddenly spied a bush fat with blackberries, so we pulled over, rummaged in the boot of the car for containers, and did some picking. Then we spotted a stall outside a garden selling plums, runner beans, tomatoes and bunches of garden flowers. £1.10 dropped into their jam jar got me a bag of plums and a bunch of heavenly flowers!

After we had been to the supermarket and decided that perhaps the car was a bit too full for an ironing board, we decided to collect Dad from home and go on to our favourite nursery for a cup of tea and a scone. I love sitting there and looking out over the fields, and then seeing all the rows of plants and flowers. I always feel so relaxed after a gentle meander through the greenhouses.

After all this, I hopped on the bus home, and read a little (After The Armstice Ball, my latest Dandy Gilver mystery). Now as I sit typing this, there is the smell of chocolate cake wafting through the flat, as I have baked two dozen cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Carl's boss is leaving tomorrow, so some are for him to take in to say goodbye, and the rest I am going to take to my work. Once they have cooled I am going to ice them with chocolate buttercream, then dip them in chocolate vermicelli. Before that though, I have some washing to hang out, and hope it doesn't rain!

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. I am never entirely sure of the ettitquette here....do I reply to each comment? Visit your blog to comment on your comment? Try and divine an email address? I don't know! But what I do know is that I really appreciate each and every comment. I just wish that we could all sit round sipping tea and nibbling cupcakes and get to know each other better! So- Vintage Kitten, oh how it has made me smile to realise that there is someone else out there who loves the smell of libraries! You are right, there is a certain smell that only old libraries and a particular kind of second hand book shop has, and I adore it. I have been found with my nose buried in a book before, not reading, but smelling it! We have a room full of newspaper archives at work that I also love to pop into for a little smell. Dinah, it is soo difficult for me to get Lipton's Yellow Label tea, but I really do adore it! I love that we are so many miles apart but have such similar loves! Do you get Victoria Magazine where you are? Again, so hard to get here, but makes me feel so English when I read it!

Before I sign off to wield my icing bag, I must ask, did anyone else see Economy Gastronomy last night? I was utterly, utterly shocked by how much that family were spending on food a month, just through a lack of planning and thought. It made me laugh when the father said it would be 'tough' to cut back their spending from over £600 a month! I liked the idea behind the show and enjoyed some of the recipes, but I would have liked it if they had shown a few more ways to use up the giant pot of beef stew that they made at the beginning, other than just fold it into pasta. I must go to BrocanteHome.Co.Uk and print out some more weekly meal planners!

Happy Thursdays, everyone!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

What's On My Library Ticket?

One of the best things about working in a library (well, two libraries really) is that I often stumble across an author I would not have otherwise found. Recently I was shelving some crime novels when Bury Her Deep by Catriona Mcpherson fell on my toe. I took it home and devoured it, and have since read two more. There is one waiting for me to collect it, and having visited the authors wonderful website, I have found that Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains will be published in December. How I love a good murder mystery at Christmas! Set in the 20s they are a delightful read and I could spend a great many words telling you about them...but why not visit here instead? http://www.dandygilver.co.uk/

So, what is on my library card at the moment?

A Very Great Profession by Nicola Beauman is all about the kind of novelist published by Persephone Books (her own company) but was written years before she started it. Persephone have recently republished this book, and it is a great companion to this hot water bottle genre of literature, and at the back of the book there is a kind of glossary of writers, which has given me lots of ideas for books to order in the future!

Learning To Cook Vegetarian by Rose Eliot since we are having a month of vegetarian eating at home, this is the perfect book for lots of great ideas for tasty dinners to make. Because naturally, there are a lot of vegetables in vegetarian cookery, it makes it easier to eat with the seasons. One of my favourites so far is a cashew nut and broccoli curry served with home made naan bread.

Boudoir an utterly divine book, about turning your bedroom into a boudoir, with several different 'themes' but not in the obvious Changing Rooms way. There is a country-ish section, a 'starlet' section, sections with a rich jumble of beads and butterflies...it is hard to settle on one style, but I like marrying several together. It has given me lots of ideas for prettying up our bedroom once I have finished tidying out and decluttering. Alas, dear Carl does not approve of my idea to paint our bed white!

Marguerite Patten's Top 100 Teatime Treats was left on my desk by a colleague who knows I love baking and afternoon tea. This one has lovely sections on specialities from different places around Great Britain, and savoury ideas too. I think that once I have tried out a few recipes, this may be a book that I have to buy!

The Edge of Love a dvd treat that I am saving for tomorrow! I watched Ballet Shoes yesterday and was transfixed. Not only was the story lovely, but visually, the sets, the costumes....I have high hopes for this one too!

100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet is a delightful book that I have had out for a while now. There are so many that I would like to make that I hardly know where to start. As well as brooches and hair decorations for myself, I want to make some holly sprigs and misteltoe bunches to adorn Christmas presents with this year...the idea being that they can act as a bow on the parcel, and then be hung up or worn later.

Coco and Igor by Chris Greenhalgh. On the night that I went to the Proms, I heard some music by Stravinsky. On the way to the concert hall, I saw lots of posters for Coco Before Chanel, which has Audrey Tatou in the lead roll. While I was searching our catalogue for some books about Stravinsky, I found this novel, which is the fictional account of the real life affair between Chanel and Stravinsky. I can't wait to dig in!

Tales From Greenery Street by Denis Mackail is an interlibrary loan which I was pleased to see on my desk. It is a series of short stories and I finished them this morning. I have several other of his titles on the way, and I can't wait!

A Classical Education by Caroline Taggart. How could I resist a book that had this on the back:

From engineering and architecture to drama and democracy, the world around us is founded on the principles and discoveries of the Ancient World, yet our understanding of it is episodic at best. So if you've ever confused Plato with Pluto, struggled with Socrates, wish you could formulate a logical argument or wondered whether the Romans really dined at vomitoria, then carpe diem and delve into this book- it is never too late to learn!

I know I am biased, working in public libraries as I do, but I think the fact that anyone can walk into their local library, answer a few questions and then be given a card that lets them borrow books without having to pay a penny is just amazing. In my own authority, it is 14 books, and you can use every single public library in the county. You can reserve books free of charge if you do it yourself, so often I will have a pile of brand new books that are on sale in the big bookshops just waiting for me to take them home. There are times when I fall in love with a book and go on to buy it, but I could not possibly afford my reading habit without my library! It is so amazing to be able to try a book without risking anything. I pick up an author I fancy trying, and if I don't like it, I just hand it back and try another. Imagine if I had to pay for every book I borrowed!

Recently a friend came back from New York and gave me a book journal from the New York Public Library. I have tried to keep a book journal so manh times, but have never got very far. I have turned over a new leaf though, and really keep this journal. Part of me thinks that I should keep a little note of how much each library book I read would have cost to borrow, so I can work out how much I have saved over a year!

Looking Forward to Falling Back

A sweet friend recently posted about the comforts of home and looking forward to autumn: http://prettylittleblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/no-place-like-home.html
and I have to say, while I am not wishing my life away, I cannot help but be really excited by the coming of autumn.

There have been one or two mornings recently where I have flung the window open to wave goodbye to Carl, and there has been the faintest hint of autumn mornings to come. At the local farmers market, bags of home grown apples have started to appear. I have always loved Autumn...the smell of woodsmoke in the air, autumn leaves to scuffle through...I can hardly wait!

I love the back-to-school feeling of September and new pencils that mistily drifts into Autumn and pumpkins, before being rounded off with sparklers and bonfires.

Soon there will be apple day at the local orchard, and I will have mueseli with grated apple for breakfast, and pear juice with ginger to drink. I will bake apple crumbles and fill jar upon jar with gleaming purple blackberry jam. I will take all my softest jumpers from the bottom of my wardrobe and wash them so they are all soft and ready to wear again. This is the year I am going to buy an electric blanket to make our bed snuggly warm. There will be hot water bottles and mugs of cocoa, and rich stews cooked in the slow cooker and studded with dumplings. I will knit a new scarf for chilly mornings, and paint my toenails chocolate brown, or velvety purple.

There will be peppermint-and-nutmeg to spray upon my pillow, and autumn leaves pressed between pages of a book. Bowls of pinecones and shiney conkers will sit in bowls, and I will read 'Mrs Miniver' again, and buy huge bunches of bronze chrysanthemums. I will bake pumpkin cupcakes for halloween, and go on long walks.

To be ready for all this, I am having a really large clear out. I would love to take a week off work and turn out every cupboard at once, but I have done this before and it is exhausting. Instead, every week I am doing a little bit at a time. We are going to buy a new, bigger book case for the living room, and then we will be ready to snuggle up our home for Autumn.

Mimi Goes To Another Wedding

This is really the summer of weddings for us! This wedding was that of Carl's cousin, and was the first civil ceremony that I have been to (as in not a church wedding, not as in a civil partnership). We drove through a lot of twisty turny country lanes, and surprised ourselves by not getting lost, and arriving here http://www.gaynespark.co.uk/

The ceremony itself took place in the Orangery, and was over a little sooner than I thought it would be, and there was no singing. The bride (Carl's cousin) is really petite and tiny and looked great in her dress. While we were waiting for the bride to arrive, a lot of Carl's relatives turned round to us and asked if it brought back memories for us! It was a gloriously hot day, and we all spilled out onto the lawn for glasses of Pimms and photos.

When we went in to find our places for the meal, we found that all the tables were named after different superheroes, and the favours were cones of penny sweets! I really like it when couples bring a lot of their personalities to their wedding. We had a field mushroom stuffed with smaller mushrooms to start...oh how I hate mushrooms! But being a good young lady, I ate it, and just held my breath as I swallowed! Then we had some really amazing steak, and dessert was a chocolate roulade that looked a lot heavier than it tasted. All through the dinner, there was a man singing swing tunes! It was such a lovely touch, and he sang all my favourites, including 'Ain't That a Kick in the Head'.

After dinner and the speeches (which included a video of the poor groom dancing to 'I'm Too Sexy' as a teenager!) we mingled and chatted with Carl's family. There was a table set up so you could help yourself to tea and coffee, so after a while Carl and I wandered outside with tea and sat to reflect upon the day. Dusk had fallen, and the barn doors were open, so it was almost like being at the theatre! Then Carl's Uncle and Aunt joined us with tea, and we sat and chatted for ages.

When it got to about 10:00 we decided we would go inside, make our goodbyes and leave for home. But just as we got back inside, the swing singer from earlier came back out...dressed as Elvis! He was so infectiously enthusiastic that we ended up stopping and dancing for several hours more...until we finally left to go home, where we sat in bed drinking tea and eating wedding cake. The perfect end to the day...

Wednesday Afternoon and a Cup of Tea

It is a good thing that I have a cup of tea to hand, or I might just be in tears now! Oh it is nothing serious at all, but this morning I did two loads of washing and pegged them out to dry, because yesterday Radio 4 assured me that it would be cooler today, but not showery. And now? The rain is coming down so hard that the air has taken on that misty quality! It is tapping against the window and drumming on the cars outside! I could go out and bring it in, but then I would be soaked myself, and we do not have a tumbledrier to put the wet things in anyway...

I wanted to watch Midsommer Murders on the itv player, but it is not on there. I have a tummy ache and feel really rather vexed! I have finished my book, and while I do have more to start...I don't know which one to choose!

I had planned to tidy out my collection of magazines, weed some, and put them away....but I didn't feel like I had the energy, and now I wish I had!

What a misery I am! Ah, but it is not all doom and gloom. I think I am suffering from having Carl's company all day yesterday, and being on my own today. Not entirely alone though, because I did have a very lovely tapas lunch with some dear friends in town earlier, and even better, we had a voucher for 50% off our bill!

We have planted some lettuce seeds to grow in windowbox, and the first little shoots are starting to appear, which makes me smile at the wonder of it all.

The health food shop has a new range of vegetarian food in- Amy's. http://www.amys.com/about_us/index.php We are not totally vegetarian, but having cut down on meat a lot recently, we have decided to have a month of eating vegetarian at home, and only eating meat if we are out, and it is good quality. I have been cooking a lot of Rose Eliot recipes, and while I really do enjoy cooking from scratch, sometimes it is so nice to have a little something stashed in the freezer that I have not made, is tasty and healthy. Amy's ticks all the boxes! I got us her Indian Samosa Roll and Bean Burrito's to try in our lunchboxes this week.

I have two bottles of raspberry gin steeping on my sideboard. Even though it won't be ready for a few weeks, it tastes wonderful already! Summer in a bottle, and the prettiest pink colour ever!

I have a brand new bottle of bubble bath sitting in the bathroom just waiting for me to turn the hot tap on!

I am going to be baking chocolate cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook tomorrow. I made a little shopping trip to Marks and Sparks this morning, and now have a box of organic chocolate vermicelli sprinkles just waiting to be sprinkled!

So really, I have plenty to be cheerful about! I think it is time that I made the kettle whistle again, and brew another pot of Lipton's Yellow Label tea!

I hope that the sun is shining on you today, and if you have rain, I hope that you have not pegged your washing out!

Mimi Goes To The Proms


Quite a few months ago now, I was cooking dinner for a dear friend, and we were talking about the wonderful pianist Stephen Hough-read his blog here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/author/stephenhough/ - when he said 'why don't we go to the Proms together?' I accepted at once, as although I have been to the Royal Albert Hall, I have bever been to the Proms.


Imagine how excited I was when I found out that Stephen Hough would be playing...and then how disappointed when Adrian said that he doesn't like Tchaikovsky (which is what Stephen would be performing). Several months went by, and nothing more was said, so I decided that perhaps we would not be oging to the Proms after all.


I was sitting in bed on a rare Saturday morning off work, sipping tea and reading a book when my phone bingly-bongly-beeped to say that I had a text message. I read 'where are you?' I replied that I was at home. Bingly-bongly-beep! 'Fancy the proms Monday?' Monday? Monday!


I phoned work quickly and was able to take the afternoon off....so I replied and said yes please! Which left me only to shake poor Carl awake to tell him how excited I was, and fret a little about what to wear. Happily I found the perfect dress....you see my instinct is to dress up when I go out, and especially for the Royal Albert Hall....but the Proms are very informal. So informal....and yet...I wanted to look nice! I wore the dress in the picture along with a black cardigan to dress it down, and some sparkly ballet flats.
I left work at 3 (should have been there till 7!) and caught the train to London. We sat and sipped tea on the way up, which for me is the only way to travel! When we got to London we went straight to the Royal Albert Hall to pick up our tickets, and then went to a little Italian called Dino's for dinner. It is very near to the V&A...if you are ever in the area, do go, the food is utterly scrumptious. A real home-made place. I was torn between the carbonarra and the pasta with mussels, clams and cherry tomatoes...and decided to go with the mussels. Imagine my horror when I discovered liberal servings of calamari amongst my mussels, and even worse, entire baby octopusses! (Octopussi?) Happily my dining companion was more than happy to eat the offending seafood, and my tiramisu dessert was utterly scrumptious!
There was just enough time for a glass of water at the bar at the Royal Albert Hall before we had to go in. Adrian bought me a programme which I really enjoyed reading, and then we went to our seats to enjoy Prom 15 http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/2009/whatson/2707.shtml alas it is no longer available on iplayer, but it is on youtube!
I just did not know where to look! There was the splendour of the hall itself, all the rich red and tiers upon tiers of seats. Then, the people. I was glad that I had not dressed up too much after all, as most people were casually dressed. Such a mix of people! Some who had obviously just wandered over from the office, some young men, older people, one man with an amazingly long beard, a real cosmopolitan pick-and-mix assortment.
Oh, and the orchestra! The instruments were fascinating, and it was amazing, once the music began, to see it being played as well as hearing it. My favourite part was the ballet Petrushka by Stravinsky. It was the whole of the second half of programme. It made it quite impossible to sit still, I was all of a tapping foot and nodding head!
The funniest thing happened on the way home. I was holding Adrian's umbrella and balancing both our cups of tea while he went to the loo at Liverpool Street station, when I spied a man who looked a lot like my little brother. Bearing in mind it was really rather late at night, and my little brother (who is 23!) may have a beard one day, none the next, goatie the next and so on....well I was a little unsure. So I sidled closer and closer until I suddenly realised that it was my little brother! After I introduced him and Adrian, we caught the train home together!

Mimi Goes To A Wedding


Looking at the pictures of me taken at the wedding of our lovely friends Jo and John, I have noticed that I have a Very Bad Habit. Because Carl is shorter than me (and I was wearing heels) I have a habit of bending my head towards his whenever someone points a camera in our direction. Which is fine for one picture, or maybe even two...but it is all of them! I look like I have something wrong with my neck, or perhaps my ear is glued to the top of his head! My hair was much, much bigger than this at the start of the day...but by this point it had been blown about quite a lot, rained on twice, and squished up a tiny spiral staircase...

The wedding was in a tiny but oh so pretty village. The church was really picturesque, and slightly unusual in that it had a balcony-gallery area. It soon became apparent that the bride and groom had more family and friends than there was room, so some of us were invited up to the gallery. The only thing was, the only way up was through a tiny doorway and up a stone spiral staircase...which were slightly shorter than my husband, and only a bit wider! All the ladies in our party had to take of fascinators and heels, and the men had to fold themselves almost double, but it was worth it for the wonderful view.

It was the kind of wedding that I adore...simple but elegant, with so much of the bride and the groom in the details. The church was decorated in wonderful swathes of babys breath, as there were two weddings taken place that day, and it let either bride put whatever flowers they wanted with it. One of the hymns (Lord Of All Hopefulness) was one that we had at our wedding, so I really enjoyed that! It poured with rain until the bride arrived, at which point the sun shone. It was hard to keep a straight face once or twice as the rain lashed down again, and crashed against the stained glass window behind us. It was almost like being at the seaside! Happily, it then dried up again when we left the church.

There was Pimms to drink when we arrived at the reception, and plenty of time to talk to the other guests, throw confetti and take photos. When we went back inside for dinner (a very generously portioned roast beef dinner with yorkshire pudding, followed by profiteroles) the rain began to lash down again. There was something really cosy about being inside, eating roast beef, and seeing the rain sheet down. In the centre of each table was a tall thin vase filled with white delphinium, white roses and bear grass. Each person had a tiny brown handbag made out of card and decorated with a white rose at their place, inside which were some mini chocolate eggs!

I normally don't love the disco part of weddings, but we had so many wonderful friends around us (including a boy I have known for 25 years!) we ended up staying to the very end...so late infact, that the staff were clearing away, and I was able to take home one of the table centres as they would have been thrown away otherwise. I have pressed some of the flowers, and I am going to put them on a little card and send them to Jo. I did that when I caught a bouquet at a wedding a few years ago!

We have Jo and John some money for their honeymoon, because that is what they really wanted, but I have a gift in mind for future weddings. I have just read (and adored!) Greenery Street by Denis Mackail. The marvellous Persephone Books have republished it, and it really is amazingly funny. It is the story of Ian and Felicity Foster, and their early years of marriage in a little house in the eponymous Greenery Street. It is full of wonderful domestic details (written in the 30s I believe) and is really witty. Definitely one if I am stuck for a wedding gift in future! When I wrap up wedding gifts, I like to buy one of those wind up elastic band butterflies to go in the card, and then put in plenty of glitter or confetti. The more sparkly the better!

Mimi Goes To The Spa

Two years ago, on August 11th, I woke up to find the only sunny Saturday that summer was dawning. Several hours later, I found myself at a tiny country church, walking up the aisle towards my wonderful Carl, and saying the vows that would change my life forever.

Last year, we celebrated by going to Dorset, and spending the day at River Cottage. I can't believe it has been a whole year since then. We had to shelter under a huge umbrella as it simply poured down with rain.

And this year...well it rained again! In the morning, anyway. But happily the showers gave way to sunshine, and once again we spent the day together.

Cotton is the traditional gift for the second anniversary, and Carl bought me a lovely cotton nightie. It is very Cath Kidston-Bodenish. White, with tiny blue flowers all over it, and blue and white polka dot buttons! I gave him a candle in a glass jar which smells of 'clean cotton'.

After several cups of tea, we set off for Clarice House Spa which was just a little jaunt down the motorway away. I had not been before, but the idea of spending the day wafting about in a soft white dressing gown and bobbing about in a swimming pool was just the very thing! When we got there, we were given a cup of tea and a medical form to fill in, along with a menu so we could choose what we would eat for lunch. It was really hard to choose, as everything looked so delicious! Although when I read 'chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream' on the dessert menu, that part was not at all hard to choose!

Once we had changed into our dressing gowns and slippers, we went off to explore the facilities. Clarice House was a big country house that has been converted into a spa, so in some parts of the house I half expected to see Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot taking tea! I loved the aromatherapy room, which was a dark steamy room scented with lavender, and tiny twinkling lights in the ceiling! There was time to sit in the jacuzzi and splash in the pool, and dry off in the sauna before padding back round to reception for our treatments.

We both had facials (even though Carl had shaved that morning, he still thinks he exfoliated his therapists hands rather than her exfoliating his face!) and then I had a pedicure while Carl had a manicure. It was all rather new to him, but I think he rather enjoyed the pampering! I had my toes painted in 'Affair In Red Square' red-a wonderful shade, which reminds me of faberge eggs for some reason!

Lunch was really scrumptious, and we were seated at the best table, overlooking the gardens. I loved how my salad was served- on a square, completely flat plate, almost like a piece of slate. I must keep an eye out for some at home!

We went for a walk around the gardens, and we spotted some rabbit holes, but sadly no bunnies! Before we went home there was time for some more bobbing about in the pool, and I must have relaxed too much, becuase I was just so tired all of a sudden, I didn't even change out of my dressing gown to go home!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

I don’t know about where you are, but it has definitely been rather warm where I am! Although I enjoy light summer evenings, blue sky and warm breezes, I don’t like feeling hot and bothered, which I invariably do when summer arrives.

So, in the manner of the lovely Alison at Brocante Home, I have been thinking of my own versions of puttery treats- little things I can do to keep my cool and enjoy summer.

At this time of year, keeping a bottle of water to hand is mandatory for me, so I can sip away wherever I may be. I have always thought it would be rather nice to be a mineral water connoisseur, but so far I have been more than happy to stick to tap water. Although I will be avoiding sparkling water as it always makes me feel queasy, I shall be tipping everything from San Pellegrino to Evian!

The biggest hit at my cocktail party was undoubtedly the Apple and Raspberry Sunrises. Simply blitz a handful of frozen raspberries together with a good glug of apple juice, then thin with sparkling water. (I know I just said it makes me queasy…but only when I drink it neat!) It struck me that I would make this if I have friends round, but not for myself. But how silly! So tonight when I get home from work, I shall be making myself a glass.

Now that I have my really marvellous Vitamix machine, I want to branch out a bit and try other juices and such things. It crushes ice really quickly, so I feel a morning glass of iced fruit juice will be how I start my day.

Surely one of the worst things to do when you are feeling hot and bothered is to hurry about, or feel that you have a long bothersome list of things to do…so I shall be paring back and trying to keep it as simple as possible. Leaving 10 minutes early wherever I am going, so that I have 5 extra minutes to wander gently, and 5 minutes to repair any heat-frizzed hair and pink cheeks when I arrive!

I love to have little rituals throughout the day, and coming home is one of my favourite times of day. I like being able to gently switch off from being 'at work' or even just 'out in the world' to being 'at home' in my own little world. Shoes off, first of all. Then windows open, phone checked, drink prepared, and then as I sit and sip perhaps an iced coffee, or maybe even a cup of tea (yes, even when it is hot, sometimes nothing else will do!) I spray my feet with a foot spray. Now that doesn't sound so exciting I know, but I keep it in my fridge, so it is extra cold. Then I sit under my ceiling fan, sipping my drink and waving my feet in the breeze. Bliss!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Cupcakes and Cocktails

This afternoon, as I type this, I have a cloud of pillows at my back, a cup of tea in my favourite flowery mug to my side, and a husband in the bath. Now that sounds all very ordinary, but I find it rather wonderful, as dear Carl has been off on a stag weekend, and has just come back.

Well, I say weekend, but he left Thursday, so more of a jaunt than a weekend. I know there are people out there who are married to partners who work nights or shifts, or travel away from home, but since we moved in together 5 years ago, and got married nearly 2 years ago, we haven't spent more than 2 nights apart, and I must confess that I was rather dreading it.

Now I don't want you to think that I am one of those ladies who cannot function without her husband, and I was rather looking forward to watching films that I knew he would not enjoy, eating dinners that he doesn't like to eat and wearing face masks, but I did decide that 4 days of being alone would make me lonely.

So, what to do, what to do? Only one thing for it! Invite the library crowd round for a Saturday night Cupcake and Cocktail soiree!

I spent Saturday baking, and made 100 cupcakes! There were tiny chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache icing, cherry and coconut cupcakes, mocha cupcakes, lemon butterfly cakes and spelt, pear and raspberry cupcakes.

After that, I got down to mixing cocktails. Now my pet hate is when you go to visit someone, and all they have for the non-drinkers is water or orange juice. Pah! We can do better than that! So for those who were driving or abstaining for a variety of reasons, I made:

Apple and Elderflower Sparkles~ apple and elderflower cordial topped up with appletiser, over ice cubes and slices of lemon

Apple and Raspberry Sunrises~ frozen raspberries blitzed with apple juice and topped up with sparkling water

Iced Coffee~ cold black coffee blended with coffee ice cream

Then for those who were drinking, I made:

Kir Royales~ cassis topped up with sparkling wine

Mojitos~ white rum, lime juice, mint, sugar syrup and soda water over LOTS of ice

Green Tea Martinis~ lemon green tea, vodka and cointreau with ice

I have served the latter a few times now, and I am beginning to think that it may be my signature cocktail....and perhaps I should start calling them Greenteanis instead of Green Tea Martinis!

I had a small disaster with the Kir Royales....I had just set everything out in the garden, carried the coffee table out all on my own, put all the cupcakes on vintage plates, when....a huge rumble of thunder, lighting tore the sky open, and rain came tumbling down! Luckily a few guests had arrived by this time, and they helped bundle everything through the windows and back into our flat. As I was carrying a tray of Kir Royales through, everyone else arrived at once, and the entire tray went over! I was really stressed and wanted to go and hide my head in my apron, but I realised that being the hostess, the show must go on!

I think (and hope!) my guests had a good time. Apart from the Kir Disaster, the evening went well, all the drink got drunk, most of the cupcakes got eaten, and when I went to bed, I still missed Carl, but was tired enough not to mind too much.

Oh, and as I was washing up, I found a paper package that one of my dear friends had given me as she arrived, but I had forgotten about. Inside, a pair of minature champagne flutes filled with those jelly candles. I am just the luckiest girl to have such lovely friends.

The sky is starting to look dark again, and there are some ominous rumbles sounding from the window. I do hope this does not mean another storm. I always feel a little dizzy and breathless when it storms, a bit like a fainting heroine from a historical romance novel! Talking of novels, and books, I have just started reading the most wonderful cookbook. I spied The Vicar's Wife's Cookbook in Borders when I went to London for my birthday, and it looked nice...but it was a bit too expensive to buy just because it looked nice, so I ordered it from work. It arrived on Friday, and it is utterly gorgeous. She writes with a whisper of Nigella about her in that she introduces each chapter and recipe with an anecdote about it, and it is like her side of a conversation, but her voice is very different. The best thing is that I now have lots of ideas of things to cook for when we have friends for dinner!

Alas, the thunder is rumbling in earnest now, so I am going to take refuge in the bathroom (it has no windows so I can't possibly get struck, can't see the lightning, and the thunder is muffled. Oh, and I can have a long gloriously scented bubblebath too!)

Wherever you are, have a scrumptious sunday!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Storm

A week ago Monday, we had the most terrific storm here. Not terrific as in amazing, but as in huge and loud and terrifying. I have been suffering with another ear infection (nearly £30 spent on antibiotics and ear drops in the last week and a bit!) and went home from work early. I had a headache and felt decidedly muzzy. Then, as I got off the bus, the sky that had been steadily darkening for the last half hour split apart and large, heavy drops of rain started to pelt down.

Happily I got home before the deluge really began, but suddenly there was a huge flash of lightning, and then the longest rumble of thunder I have ever heard. Now I just hate storms...they give me a particular kind of headache that makes me feel like I am on the edge of fainting clean away, and the thunder makes me jump. To make matters worse, poor Carl phoned from the train to say that a train line and signal had been hit by lightning, and while he was safe, he was going to be stuck on the train for a good while yet.

So, alone in the house, the storm raged on. I didn't want to have the television on, as when I was a little girl, my Dad always unplugged it at the first flash of lightning, in case the ariel got hit...and the advice has stayed with me! I retreated into the bathroom, the best place to hide because it has no windows! I had a long hot bath which made me feel a little better, but when I emerged, the storm was still roaring.

What else to do, but bake? Nothing too taxing because I really didn't feel like it, but something comforting and familiar, easy yet rewarding...scones! I can bake scones almost in my sleep, and just 30 minutes after I tied my apron on, I was curled up under a blanket sipping tea and nibbling on a scone. Bliss!

How do you hide from storms? Or are you braver than me, and one of those people who can see the beauty in them? I think that they awaken some kind of primitive fear inside me...I can imagine how a cave-lady must have felt! For all that we live in houses now, we are no less protected from the lightning!

The train line runs past the end of our garden, and after a while, I heard the trains begin to shunt past again, so I knew that it would not be too long before my lovely husband came home. Perhaps there is something good about storms after all- the feeling of when the storm has passed!