Saturday, 31 January 2015

January Skies


The sky has been so beautiful this month that I had to share. The pics obviously don't do them justice of course, but considering they're shot with my camera phone they're not too bad! Most of these were taken around Cliftonville and Broadstairs as I stood in awe for a few moments on my way to or from work. There are a couple from our sunny Saturday afternoon in Deal, too. Definitely my favourite way to start or end the day. I hope you enjoy them too :-)














Thursday, 29 January 2015

What's the Story? Rhossili Bay


Since it's Thursday I thought I'd share an old photo and I love this one, it's perfectly wonky and none of us were prepared! It was taken on timer with my camera balanced on a wall on a trip to see my aunty in South Wales. I think it must've been in 2010, AJ was still a baby. At least, I don't remember him being able to walk yet, which he did at 13 months. 

My mum and I went for a day or two and whilst there we visited Rhossili Bay and gazed out over Worm's Head. I remember my aunty telling me about how some (brave) tourists walk onto Worm's Head when the tide is out then pitch up and camp over night as the tide comes in so they're on a little island for the night. I think I'd be too scared!

As we're going to visit my aunty again this year it's been great to remember Rhossili Bay and I think we'll try to get back there again. 

A bit better!

Worm's Head, Rhossili, Gower

My lovely little baldy bonce, just getting his first curls at the back of his head.




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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Secretly Good for You Chocolate Snowballs


Mmm...snowballs...chocolatey coconutty goodness. Actual goodness, because believe it or not, these are made from fruit, nuts, a sprinkling of cocoa and of course a dusting of dessicated coconut. 

Sweet, sastisfying and secretly good for you. Make some! You won't regret it.

For your delight and delectation I have written out this simple recipe, which I adapted from this recipe by Julie Morris. You'll notice that despite being English, I use measuring cups for recipes like this because it's so much easier than weighing out all the ingredients - just scoop and go. It's all whizzed up in a food processor too, so you'll need one of those.

You will need:

A food processor
A spatula will come in handy
Some baking paper

15 or 16 pitted dates
1/4 cup each of almonds, cashews and dried fruit such as sultanas
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of seeds, I used sunflower seeds because I love them
1 tbsp chia seeds
1-2 tbsp water
Some dessicated coconut, for rolling your balls in ;-)

Method:

Whizz everything up except the water and coconut in your food processor until it forms a doughy ball. You may need 1 or 2 table spoons of water to bring it all together, but you want it to be doughy, not wet or too sticky. 

Once it's all nicely whizzed into a ball, scoop it out of your food processor and place on a piece of baking paper or a non-stick surface. Roll the ball into a nice, even fat sausage, and use a sharp knife to divide into 8 equal pieces. 

Sprinkle a pile of dessicated coconut onto a plate and roll each of your pieces into a ball, then roll each ball around in the coconut until it's evenly coconut-ed. 

Et voila! Heavenly, secretly good for you Chocolate Snowballs. Enjoy! 


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A Sunny Saturday Afternoon in Deal


Deal has a lovely long, flat pathway all along its coast which is just perfect for scootering five- year-olds. We spent yesterday afternoon cruising along the sea front, stopping for a delicious lunch at The Lane and acquiring a nice little booty of books (boo-ky?) from the Oxfam charity book shop. If I'm browsing charity shops can't help but buy second hand books, I think it's an illness. Although I'm quite proud of not buying any for myself, I am trying very hard to stick to my 'read ten books off my bookshelf' resolution. I also treated myself to an entirely unneccessary set of heart-shaped measuring cups and AJ spotted some rocket lolly moulds in the Retro Cookshop

On the way back to our car AJ had mastered his two-wheeled technique and was bravely attempting to turn himself around without having to get off. Not bad considering he has been a committed three-wheeler up til now! 

The pebbled coastline is littered with beach huts, boats and fishing equipment,which makes for a lovely photo opportunity if you're that way inclined, so here is a few pics from our sunny Saturday afternoon in Deal. 














Monday, 19 January 2015

Free Crochet Pattern: Cabbage Patch Bonnet



I found my old Cabbage Patch doll last week and I know it sounds stupid but I felt so guilty when I saw her dirty face looking up from an old cardboard box. I've had this doll since
I was a baby myself and she was my most loved toy. Those in the know will remember that Cabbage Patch babies came with an adoption certificate and mine is called Roseanne, affectionately shortened to Rosie by my toddler self.

She has always worn an old knitted bonnet and cardigan of mine, too big and now a bit tatty, so I thought it was about time I put my crochet to good use and make her something new. 

Although I have written this pattern myself, I was inspired to make this bonnet by a picture I found on Ravelry which I have since lost. If you recognise it please let me know so I can give credit for the inspiration. 

I used a 5mm crochet hook and double-knit yarn. I use US crochet terms because I learnt using predominantly American blogs / tutorials, but if you crochet in UK terms just replace each double crochet (dc) with a treble crochet (tr).

This bonnet fits my Cabbage Patch baby but if you would like it to fit a real baby you could increase the number of rounds you do to 12, and lengthen the ties.

In rounds 1-4 you will just be crocheting a four-round granny square but I have written them out step-by-step if you need them. If you know how to do this already, go ahead then skip to round 5 :-)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

HFW's Barley, Onions and Tomatoes

Tomatoes, garlic, thyme, olive oil and bay leaves ready for roasting

The last two weeks have been the healthiest we've ever had. After about 10 months of
vegetarianism on my part we've switched to an almost completely plant-based diet. This is quite a big deal for my meat-loving husband, but he has been reading about the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle and has embraced our veggie menu wholeheartedly. In fact it was he who suggested a lifestyle overhaul to me! This was just great news, I have struggled to healthily cater for myself as the only veggie in the house but it's been so much easier now we're both singing from the same hymn sheet. We have eaten the most delicious things so far and I finally have my enthusiasm for cooking back after a good 18 months of feeling utterly uninspired. Even AJ has tried everything I've stuck under his nose!

This barley, tomato and onion recipe by Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall is one of the new things we have tried and whilst I'm still not sure if I like pearl barley there's definitely something to be said for it's inbetweeny pasta/rice texture and I think it'll come in handy. With minimal ingredients this recipe is quite easy to put together, although it's a bit time consuming if you opt to make your own tomato puree - but you can use passata instead.

I did find it a bit thin after the recommended cooking time so I stirred a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree in (the kind you get in a toothpaste tube!). I also slung a glug of hot sauce into the pot before serving (perhaps a bit too much, really - oops!) and garnished with some fresh basil leaves. It was delicious! 




Saturday, 10 January 2015

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

'This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God's elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts.
At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves.
Innovative, punchy and tender, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is a few days' ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.'
-The blurb from Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson 

You know when you get all the way to the end of a book, searching the last few pages for something to keep you wanting more but instead find yourself thinking... 'Is that it? Am I supposed to feel something?' This is one of those books. I had expected what the blurb said, a 'punchy and tender' story and I imagined it to be exactly the type of tale I love: coming-of-age, full of teenage angst and the exploring of sexuality, not to mention a healthy dose of rebellion and all the better if there's a bit of anti-religion stuff thrown in, too.

The story is written from the perspective of Northern teenager Jeanette who, I felt, was definitely just a sixteen year old girl telling a story. She seemed to lack depth somehow and skimmed over lots of details which would've made her memories, thoughts, feelings a lot more significant and juicy, especially as her character is potentially so rich - adopted, prospective missionary, lesbian. Being born a year after this book was published it's hard for me to reflect on this story in context, and while I am sure it was more groundbreaking at the time my over all feeling is disappoinment. It also takes itself a lot more seriously than it's trying to make out and the use of humour is good in places but overall the language is too flippant and Jeanette misses loads of opportunities to be brilliantly profound. 

My favourite character was actually Jeanette's mother who was definitely the most interesting. She's unafraid of everything but God and is driven, mysterious and infuriating. I wanted to know more about her, I felt she was harbouring a much sexier past than she was prepared to let on and I'd like to read her diary. 

Other than Jeanette's mum there wasn't enough intrigue in this story for me. I wasn't left guessing or wanting to read more as such; my hoping the story was going to get started soon is what kept the pages turning. But the thing I disliked the most about this book were the laborious fairy stories written alongside Jeanette's. I have to admit after a while I skipped through them, they were boring and I didn't understand the connection. Sir Pervical? Winnet? What? The last chapter was particularly annoying.

It's books like this that make me feel like a complete dimwit. Finding something so critically acclaimed such a chore to read definitely leads me to question my intelligence and I was very reluctant to review this book for fear of painting myself as a philistine. I just didn't get it, which is a shame because I'll never get that time back!



Image borrowed from amazon.co.uk