Now you have to remember that I live in the South Eastern part of a fairly temperate country where winters do occasionally have snow, but usually only for a few days and at most only around a couple of inches in depth. There have been unusually cold winters, and late winters, but the temperature around here really doesn't often get below around -7C (19F). So cold air for me is rarely a problem. I rather like cold air, but I don't like cold wind. I particularly hate it when your ears start hurting because they have got so cold and are painful when you come inside. That's why hats and hoods were invented though ;)
I don't have to worry about that today though as the sun is shining and it's around 16C (60F) in my garden today. I've been doing a little bit of gardening and I've washed all the windows on the bungalow (love that I can reach them all!) so they are all sparkly. Under the cut are a few sunny garden pictures.
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I have sourdough bread dough which is ready to bake once I get off the computer. I've been experimenting with different ways of creating the 'starter' for it (not always successfully). It's such a different way of making bread that it's taking some getting used to! The first loaf I made was delicious but a really odd shape, I'm hoping this one will work better - wish me luck!
I hope everyone that is having the horrible storm in the US is staying warm and safe.
It tasted rather good too - spinach and cheese loaf to use up some spinach. I tweaked the recipe and it was very difficult to wait until the loaf was cool enough to have a slice and make sure it was OK which indeed it is!
Mr Cee is on his way back home having gone to Milan yesterday for a meeting today. It was touch and go whether he would get there as there was fog delaying planes and the trains from the South East of London were all delayed because of a freight train derailment. Mr Cee was OK because he managed to avoid the lines affected to get to Gatwick, but Youngest Cee had a bit of a difficult journey home yesterday. He got here eventually because a train he caught stopped at our local station which it wouldn't normally do. There are still delays so I'm hoping he doesn't have a bad journey again tonight.
In other news I have been a veritable whirlwind today - I have been grocery shopping and collected a missed parcel for YC, then came home and got two loads of laundry washed and dried, washed and vacuumed all the floors, cleaned all the bathrooms, ironed all the shirts (boo!) AND made the loaf of bread all before noon. This afternoon I have finally watched the last few episodes of Poldark which I had recorded and just didn't get around to watching. I'm glad they are making another series - it's so beautifully shot.
So that was Wednesday!
- It's been really sunny today. My little solar app tells me that our solar panels have generated 5.7 Kwh of electricity and we have exported 1.4 kWh to the grid. Not bad for a fairly short winters day. It's not exactly going to make us millions (yesterday we exported 0.8 kWh to the grid and earned £1.30) but it's an improvement after dark days. I'm interested to see what we'll generate/export in the summer!
- I tried a new app called freeprints a few days ago which lets you select photos (from several sources as well as the phone) and will print them and send them back to you and you only pay for the postage. I only selected a few to test the quality and the photos arrived today. They are very good! You can select a matt finish (which I prefer) for free and they have come out very well so I'll probably use it again. The photos come as 6"x4" as standard, but you can also have large prints for a small fee. The developers have another app called photobooks which also looks interesting as you can have a photobook which I might investigate. It's nice to have hard copies.
- Today I tried a new recipe for a rum cake to finish up the last of the citrus infused rum I made for Christmas. It's Youngest Cee's favourite and he's finally getting his appetite back after his nasty cold even though he's still coughing, so it'll be a nice treat for him. Boy oh boy you do NOT want to drive after eating it! There is not only rum in the cake, there is also a buttery glaze/drizzle containing rum which you pour over the cake after it's cooked. It's delicious! *hic*
- Belly dance class tonight! Yay!
I don't play Playstation or PC games any more - although I might dip into the Sims very occasionally on the PC, they are time wasters and I just can't get that enthusiastic about them. Games on my phone and iPad however are a different thing. I am playing Covet everyday (a fashion/styling game) which is quite good fun. I also like Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Jelly on my iPad. Occasionally I'll also play Cookie Jam. As all of those limit how long you can play for I don't spend more that about 10 minutes a day on them, usually when I'm having a coffee break.
In other news - follow this link to find out nine reasons every woman should take up belly dancing....Some interesting reasons there! I have definitely toned my oblique muscles up over the past 18 months. I've been out for a Christmas lunch with a couple of friends today and I definitely need to go to belly dancing tonight to burn off those calories!!
If you don't fancy that - there are some ideas for rather lovely ways you can enhance vodka and rum to turn into presents or just spice it up for your own consumption here. I'm tempted by the Clementine flavoured rum....
I love food, and food this year has been mostly home made which I'm really pleased about. In fact I find I often get disappointed with take away food such as pizza as home made is so much nicer, and really it's not that hard to make my own. Mr Cee and I have been eating much healthier with a lot more vegetarian food and fish rather than meat and in fact I can't remember having red meat at all this year! I'm sure I must have had some venison at some point...? I have definitely made some tasty soups and expanded my cooking into Greek cuisine which was interesting.
My bread making has been very successful this year and I do love making bread. I am trying to make it every week, and I'm lucky that I am near several farm shops to buy interesting flours. Our bread this week is made from seed and honey flour and is lovely - especially with cheese. I shall definitely be making more for the Christmas cheese board!
Talking of cheese I have mastered making mozzarella, halloumi and various soft cheeses made from cows and goat milk this year which also pleases me. I intend to expand my cheese making but at the moment the logistics of making hard cheeses is too complicated (you need a constantly cool place to store them as they mature that is not a refridgerator such as an unheated basement ideally).
In other news today I completed a small stained glass mirror to join another one I made which are hanging on the wall in the living room. I am aiming to make a couple more and I'll take some photos once they are finished - they are bringing light to a dull corner. I've also tried to get a little Christmassy but failed as Mr Cee brought the wrong box down from the loft and I need to get a different one down to start decorating. I have, however, changed my Lj theme so that's something :)
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I set it to prove again and it was a little disappointing as although it did double in size, the dough was so wet and weighed down with olives (it was a Mediterranean receipe) that it didn't rise as much as I had hoped. However, it did cook well and tasted very good with a good structure.
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I'm not sure if I will make the recipe again as it was a little salty for my liking and I think it needs some rethinking regarding the olives I used plus I was converting from US to UK measurements and I may not have done that correctly! (recipe here) However, the no knead method is quite interesting and it seemed to work really well.
Having said that I made a wholemeal seedy bread today the 'old fashioned' way and it's turned out very well:
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Monday we had blinds fitted to the bifold doors. They are very neat and sit right in the recess of the glass of the doors so they are very easy to use but don't get in the way if we want to open the doors fully:
Yesterday the concrete base for my outdoor hobby room was laid and of course it has a few cat prints in it now *sigh*. Fortunately they were all asleep long enough that they didn't get very much on their feet as it was almost dry by the afternoon (the builders started at 8am!).
Tonight I am meeting daiseechain and we're off to a "Victorian Mummy Unwrapping Party" - "With a wrapped 'mummy' on the operating table you will witness the recreation of the process before your very eyes and under your very noses, all over a glass of your favourite 19th century tipple - sherry, Madeira or gin - included in the ticket price."
We are reassured no Mummys will be harmed during the process ;) The event is being held at the Pathology Museum at Barts Hospital in London which will be interesting as there are all kinds of gruesome things on show there. Should be fun! I shall report back.....
I have had a productive day so far - I have made the bread dough to make home made pizzas for lunch which is happily rising in the lovely warm kitchen. I have also made fresh butter which is surprisingly easy!
( How to do it if you're interested... )
Yesterday our buyers came round to measure up windows and look at the white goods that we are hoping to leave in the house as everything is built in at the new place. They were very pleased that we are leaving a lot of the blinds in the windows (the won't fit windows in the new house) and so they don't have to worry about getting curtains sorted out straight away. They want all the appliances we are leaving (and will pay for them) and as I bought myself a new slighltly smaller dressing table they are happy to have my old enormous pine dressing table so we don't have to move that :)
They stayed around an hour and I'm really pleased that they are going to be living in our house - they are a nice family. We exchanged email addresses so that they can ask us about anything if they think about it, or I find anything else they might want us to leave (!).
Right - pizza making time!
- put two loads of laundry on to wash and then been out for a long walk with Mr Cee this morning
- made fresh parsnip and carrot soup for lunch
- had a baking afternoon and made fresh goats cheese (currently cooling in the 'fridge), two loaves of fresh crusty Italian bread, a strawberry and lemon loaf cake
- wrapped up Youngest Cee's presents for tomorrow
- booked a table at Youngest Cee's favourite local restaurant for tomorrow lunchtime
writerconuk 10th anniversary event has been confirmed as the 16th-18th September!! See the announcement here. Everyone needs to come this year!!! 10 years of getting together at this bijou event (as in, it's not huge and therefore much more fun than a large con) in Coventry at a hotel which knows us (and still lets us come back each year!) and whose staff are fabulous! C'mon - you know you want to! :)
Back to the 30 days meme. This time it's Day 27 A picture of your handwriting (under the cut).
( Untidy handwriting... )
I am now going to relax for the rest of the afternoon I think! Happy Saturday!
"Simple Definition of confession. : a written or spoken statement in which you say that you have done something wrong or committed a crime. : the act of telling people something that makes you embarrassed, ashamed, etc. : the act of telling your sins to God or to a priest."
I can't think of anything!!
I am boring everyone with the non-progress of the house move, so current situation under the cut just for me really.
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In other news I have made fresh goats cheese and crusty bread and that (with some other things) will be dinner tonight. Also wine - definitely wine....
- It's such a shame Lj is so quiet. I used to have to set aside lots of time in the morning and evening to read through all the posts. Now I can go through my friends list in a few minutes :(
- Mr Cee was told just over a week ago that he was moving office from the nice convenient offices in the Strand in London (easy commute with only one train to catch) out to the suburbs of West London (double the commute time and train changes as well - which are never of the good). The landlord of their current building is going to turn their office floor into a luxury appartment (not surprising as they will get triple the rent for it at least), and as more leases come up for renewal he's going to do the same for the whole building. The downside was that this was all happening very fast and yesterday was his last day in his current offices. He doesn't even know where he'll be in the West London offices. He's not a happy chap.
- Youngest Cee is also feeling quite 'blue' as I think it's hit him that he's now in the real world and job hunting is not easy. He was very 'down' on Friday and so we're finding some things for him to do around the house as I think he needs to have some structure to his day and keep busy after such an intense last year at University.
- In the meantime I have joined a local social network called Streetlife. This is how I found out about the belly dancing class, but it's also been incredibly useful as I have been able to advertise some of the things we've found during the aborted house move. So far I've got rid of a perfectly good large garden children's slide and our old kitchen table and chairs which the local charity shops wouldn't take. I'm so glad they will go to someone who can use them rather than being dumped in the local refuse tip (the only other alternative we thought we would have).
- We went to see Ant Man last week - what a silly film, but as with all the Marvel films, great special effects and I like Paul Rudd, so I'm glad he's got the chance to be in a movie franchise.
- I have Windows 10 on my desktop computer but it keeps telling me I can download it on my laptop sometime in the future. Perhaps we didn't realise how many people wanted to get rid of Windows 8 - ay Microsoft??
- We have been watching Extant series 2 on Amazon Instant Video - very good so far!
- This afternoon I have been making bread and cake. I am making baguettes using French flour from our 'continental' farmer's market (yum) - it's been a good day for getting dough to rise as it's been very warm (32 degrees C in my back garden, although it's cooled down now!). I have made a lemon drizzle cake too and we have fresh raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to have with it later. I have some lovely smelly cheese to eat with the bread too (and of course there will be wine!).
- Last, but not least, I weighed myself last week and since the end of September last year I have managed to lose 24 pounds of flab. I have about 14 to go, but as I've not been dieting at all, I'm rather pleased....
- Things have been packed away that we don't need out at the moment including lots of heavy jumpers which I was rather regreting today as the temperature has plummeted again! Stupid UK Spring weather :(
- My little herb/strawberry Veg Trug is doing well. I've even managed to keep the cats from sitting on the plants and I've used some of the chives in a dish this week \0/
- Cooking this week has been productive - I have used up over ripe bananas by making banana bread; I have made pitta bread from scratch (surprisingly easy and much tastier than shop bought!); and today I made fresh pasta which we will have for dinner tonight with a homemade tomato sauce.
- The house move has stalled at bit - we have only had one person come to view the house and they were a bit bonkers and wanted to rip everything out and start again. We weren't surprised that they have not made an offer on the house! We had a long chat with the Estate Agent this evening and decided that we will not drop the price yet as it's only been just under 4 weeks that the house has been on the market and it's been so quiet over Easter. They are putting the house in the free borough weekly paper this week and also in a local glossy brochure that will be distributed around the area. Keep your fingers crossed for us!
Tonight for us, however, there will be wine! *clinks glass with you all* Happy Friday!
Anyway - my happy thing for yesterday was that I played around making fresh pasta and I got my pasta roller out and had fun with that. The ravioli attachment didn't work, so that was a bit of a pain (especially as it squirted the filling EVERYWHERE and you're not supposed to wash the attachment). But it didn't matter as I had fun, and I will try the attachment again with a drier filling (I was using spinach and ricotta as it was quite a moist filling) and see how that works.
As I have been so hopeless I shall start this happy thing meme again tonight and see if I can actually do 8 consecutive days. That should be possible.... shouldn't it?
However, yesterday was a very good day as I managed to pack away some things ready for moving. We haven't had anyone come to see our house yet, but I'm not concerned as it's the Easter break for schools around here at the moment and because our borough schools have broken up earlier than many others a lot of people seem to be away. We have had nearly 400 'hits' to our entry online and quite a few people driving past slowly. I'm quite glad that we haven't had anyone round yet as that's given us some time to make the house more presentable. Last week I pressure-washed our driveway which now looks fabulous.
Today's happy thing is getting some more things sorted out - I'm putting a new coat of paint on the smallest bedroom walls as it's the only room that looks a little shabby. It's looking much better for it.
Also today is Youngest Cee's birthday! He is 22 - I can't quite believe it! He's also so tall now (6 foot 5 inches!) that I feel very short next to him at 5 foot 11 inches!! But he's still my baby and we love him for his kindness and his lovely personality. I have made him a chocolate cake with Guinness in it which is cooling at the moment and smells delicious. :)
ETA: finished cake!
It's cold too! Mr Cee and I seem to be having a problem getting rid of this cold virus. We have both decided that it's a nasty one, and we need to give in and take it easy this weekend. Although he is just finishing off the little bits and pieces in the renovated bathroom so it doesn't drag on any longer, and I have been sorting out paperwork.
I wanted to try out the video upload to Lj, and took some video of some of the cats watching the snow out of the window earlier, but I can't get it to work. I don't think it likes the .mov format of iphone video, and I tried converting it to .avi but it doesn't like that either. Anyone got it to work??
So - in the meantime - the meme continues:
Today's happy thing is baking bread (which I really enjoy doing!). Today I made a pesto and mozzarella pinwheel 'tear and share' loaf:
I'm really hungry now!!
It was a very lovely afternoon which started at 3pm and ended at 9pm after we'd moved on to a few glasses of alcohol. It was great fun and we will have to do it again. I really enjoyed making all the different items - it's a while since I stretched my baking skills. I used to bake a lot with the children (and childminded children) when they were small and although it was quite fiddly and a lot of work I really enjoyed it.
Under the cut for photos.
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It was a lovely sunny day yesterday and it's the same today. I friend came over this morning and we had coffee in the garden. It's so nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine on a bank holiday (and quite rare in May in the UK!).
I hope you have all enjoyed some sunshine today!
Jamaican rum cake (so wicked and full of butter and rum!)
Lemon and poppy seed mini muffins
Mini orange cheesecakes
Pastry cases half of which tomorrow will form the base for fruit tartlets and the other half for savoury blue cheese and pear tartlets.
Creme patisserie (for the fruit tartlets)
Sable biscuits (butter biscuits which will be sandwiched with morello cherry conserve)
Fresh tomato filling for croustade cups
Tomorrow morning I shall be making a variety of sandwiches - smoked salmon with salmon mousse, egg and cress, cucumber, cheese & chutney and pastrami & English mustard using various types of bread and finishing off the things I made today.
There will be 6 of us altogether - one couple are bringing home made scones with clotted cream and home made jam, and the other couple are bringing home made blueberry lemon drizzle cake. I have got the 'posh' fine china teacups out and even found some doilies!
There may be wine as the afternoon progresses;) and I'm rather looking forward to it.
Youngest Cee has unexpectedly come home for the long weekend which is lovely. He came up from Portsmouth by train on Friday and will go back to University on Tuesday. He can help eat some of the food too as I think I have made rather a lot! I shall attempt to take photos before it all gets demolished!
I'm rather hoping that the weather will stay as lovely as it has today - we've had temperatures of nearly 20 degrees in the back garden and lovely sunshine. Happy Saturday!