March Sampler

21

Thursday, 31 March 2011

March turned out to be unexpectedly bright and colourful thanks to some lovely sunshine and the hefty dose of artificial colouring in my daughter's birthday cake.


We've had some beautiful weather this March. Spring has sprung, the trees are full of blossom. My cherry tree has shed all its flowers now but there is more blossom to come, before April is over I hope to be able to show you pictures of the Quince Tree in bloom.

I am looking forward to April despite the fact that my children are only at school for eight days of it.
 Because Easter is so late this year they break up next Friday and don't go back to school until the 27th April. Then they are off again on the 29th for the royal wedding which is followed by the May Day bank holiday. My daughter asked me the other day if I thought the royal wedding would be on telly. I told her I thought it probably would be :o) Elder son wants to know if we are going to have a day off for Ed Miliband's wedding too.

All my monthly samplers can be viewed if you click on the Sampler Page link under my banner picture.

Cinnamon Toast

30

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I've heard that some people make cinnamon toast by spreading pieces of hot toast with butter and sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar, or by mashing butter, sugar and cinnamon together and spreading that onto toast.
I make it like this.


Cut thick slices of bread.


Toast on one side only under the grill.


Spread the untoasted side thickly with salted butter. It must be salted.


Cover with a layer of sugar and  dust with cinnamon.


Flash under the grill. The sugar will melt and bubble very quickly so watch it like a hawk.


 The sugar will form a crisp crust as it cools. 
Eat while still hot.


The perfect thing for those times when you crave something sweet and starchy and there are no cakes or biscuits anywhere in the house. The makings for cinnamon toast are always there.
Try not to get butter on your yarn.


the Quince Tree in March

16

Friday, 25 March 2011

Well thank you everyone for your input regarding my Ravilious blanket. There were some really interesting comments and they are much appreciated. I know a ripple would look wonderful and echo those waves of hills in the paintings but I just don't enjoy rippling. I already have a blue ripple (scroll down the page) which has long since been abandoned. I have this on the go too. It's lovely yarn, beautiful colours but I'm finding it rather boring work. Long rows of one colour are not for me I have discovered.
 I like granny squares. No long foundation chain, quick to finish, plenty of colour changes. Even if you make a granny in one colour only, they are so quick to complete it won't be long before you can pick up another colour.
So that's what it'll be - granny squares, maybe one colour squares, maybe not. Thinking, thinking.





Compare the Quince Tree today with the photo I took a year ago. This time next month we may have blossom.

I have had a wonderful day today. Charlie has had the day off and the weather has been gorgeous.

Today I have enjoyed.

1) Maria Dahlgren. Fabulous Swedish designer.



Royal wedding tea towel. I'm pretty indifferent to the royal family but I had to have this. It's such a clever design. I love they way the words 'I do' are picked out of the words 'In London'. I like the initials carved on the tree too.


Set of five postcards from Ikea. Bargain eh? The frames were from Ikea too. 

2) This


3) Lunch at a pub with Charlie. We sat outside in the sun.
I forgot to take a picture of my onion and goat cheese tarte tatin, with rocket salad.
But this was my pudding.


Vanilla crème brulée with rhubarb sorbet. Exquisite.



Some of this too.

4) My new picture.


It is a 1950s educational poster. I love it.

5) Colour co-ordinating my laundry drying.



Not intentionally.

Ravilious

30

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


Downs in Winter 1934, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne


Eric Ravilious - Wilmington Giant
The Wilmington Giant, 1939, The Victoria and Albert Museum,  london


HMS Glorious in the Arctic, 1940, Imperial War Museum, London






Spitfires at Sawbridgeworth, Herts
Spitfires at Sawbridgeworth, 1942, Imperial War Museum,  London



Eric Ravilious - Train Landscape
Train Landscape, 1939, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections



Eric Ravilious has long been my favourite artist. His daughter has been a close friend of my mother ever since my childhood. He is an artist I have always been aware of.

Ravilious' paintings evoke an English landscape of soft, muted tones; khaki, airforce blue, gunmetal, chalk, moss, ploughed earth. Calm, quiet, more often than not free from figures, these gentle landscapes are rich in texture and detail. I want one on my wall. For now I will have to make do with looking at them in books.



These two books are by James Russell. The third one in the series A Country Life is published in a couple of weeks. James has a blog which is well worth a visit.
I am, however, going to save up and buy myself a Ravilious print from here.

You may be wondering why I have interspersed the images of the paintings with photos of yarn. My new  crochet project is to be a Ravilious inspired blanket. Probably in granny squares. I'm not entirely decided yet. My yarn arrived this morning from Rowan Up Country.


Fifteen colours at the moment. I may add some earthy brown as well.
I've had a little experiment whilst sitting in the sunshine this afternoon.


I'm not sure whether it's what I'm after or not. A ripple would be wonderful but I'm not sure I can face starting one off, that tricky first row. I do enjoy making grannies. I'm having a think and a play with my balls of yarn. What could be more fun than a new crochet project?

Thrifty Kitchen

24

Monday, 21 March 2011

Thrift in the kitchen isn't anything to do with spending as little as possible. It is about making the most of whatever food you have, be it the best sirloin or a bag of lentils. It means using up leftovers. I really enjoy finding a creative use for my leftovers. It is very satisfying to create a new dish that tastes as good, and sometimes better than the original.


Yesterday a look in my extremely tidy fridge :o) revealed a tub of  beef stew leftover from Saturday's dinner and tub of pizza sauce leftover from my daughter's birthday meal on Thursday. A ferret through my freezer resulted in a tub of bean stew leftover from a meal earlier in the week. Red Soup. I grabbed a tub of  duck stock from the freezer and threw the contents of all four tubs into a pot and heated them gently. Delicious beef, bean and tomato soup for lunch. And there was some leftover for my lunch today. Leftover leftovers.


Lamb meatballs
There was also a tub of leftover mash in the fridge from a sausage and mash meal we had on Friday, which, incidentally, I served with two small tubs of frozen leftover gravy. I had minced lamb planned for dinner yesterday evening so I added the mash to the mince, blitzed some dried apricots, onion and garlic in the food processor, added some spices (cumin, cinnamon and allspice) and some salt.


And made meatballs.


I browned them and then put them in the oven to cook through.


A tub of hummus was two days past its use-by date so I mixed it with some yogurt which didn't have a use-by date on it because I forgot to write one on it when I made it :o) - I don't take much notice of use-by dates. It made a lovely sauce to go with the meatballs. The meatballs were very good.




There were a few meatballs leftover, they have gone in the boys' lunchboxes.

I had some leftover grated mozzarella  (from the birthday pizza). I used it to make little pitta pizzas for today's lunchboxes.
























There was quite a lot of rice leftover from our meatball meal. This was intentional. I often make extra rice or mash to use in another meal. I had lots of eggs and some home-sprouted bean sprouts. A little bacon and some more veg and a lovely supper of egg-fried rice can be had for very little effort.


So, there you are, leftover
beef stew 
bean stew
pizza sauce
mash
rice
cheese
hummus
all used to make delicious meals.

Spring Equinox

18

Sunday, 20 March 2011


The wheel turns.


Half day, half night.


From today the days will be longer than the nights.


Until the autumn equinox in six months.


Everywhere this weekend
the sound of lawn mowers.


The sun warm on our faces
Coats discarded.


It has arrived.


Just in time


For the first day of spring tomorrow.


'It was a Wedgwood day, with white clouds delicately modelled in relief against a sky of pale pure blue. The best of England, thought Mrs. Miniver, as opposed to countries with reasonable climates, is that it is not only once a year that you can say, "This is the first day of spring." She had already said it twice since Christmas -- once in January, when they had driven across the Marsh to the sea and it had been warm enough to lie on the sand without a coat; and once in February, when she had taken the children for a lunch picnic in Kensington Gardens. The grass had been scattered with twigs from the previous night's gale, and by the next afternoon it was snowing: but while it lasted that day had been part of the authentic currency of spring -- a stray coin tossed down carelessly on account.
But this time, she thought (though she knew quite well that one said that every time), it really was spring.'

From Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther

Is My Fridge Too Tidy?

34

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Thank you for your lovely comments about the rainbow cake, and of course for all your comments. They are very much appreciated :o) 

I must say I was very pleased with the way the cake turned out. 
Next time, if there is a next time, I would probably halve the cake mixture in order to obtain thinner layers. I would also take more care when filling the tins to level the surface. Creating a bit of a hollow in the middle of the cake may well help prevent it from doming too much. 
The cake batter was an all in one mixture made simply by putting all the ingredients in a bowl and beating well with electric beaters. Not taxing at all. 
The colours I use are these. Paste colours don't dilute the icing, last forever and produce a wide range of intense colours.

I have to be honest and tell you that I did not make the cake as an act of devoted motherhood. I made it because I liked the look of it, because I enjoy baking and because I enjoy creating things in my home. But mainly because I knew it would make a good blog post. 


And now onto the subject of my fridge. I was completely taken aback by the amount of comments I had saying how tidy my fridge was. Not being in the habit of looking inside people's fridges I had no idea that mine was especially tidy. 
I took the picture below this morning. The only tweaking I did was to turn the jars so that their labels faced forward.



Is it particularly tidy?
It is a very large fridge with no freezing compartment so it is easy to keep tidy. 
Cheese goes on the top shelf, coffee (in the stainless steel canister) and yogurt go on the next shelf because they won't fit anywhere else. Leftovers are put in freezer tubs and if, after a couple of days they haven't been used they go in the freezer. I don't as a rule keep preserves in the fridge, but some don't get used up very quickly -marmalade, chilli jelly for instance, so they go in the fridge as they might go mouldy otherwise.
The Le Creuset pot has beef stew in it for dinner tonight and the blue dish has minced lamb defrosting for dinner tomorrow. There's still quite a lot of cake left despite giving some of it away.
The rest of my family don't really interfere with things in my fridge. I'm not sure why, I must have trained them well.

So, how tidy is your fridge?

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