Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whitstable beach house

It's cold.  It's trying to snow.  The skies are leaden; grey and unforgiving.  Spring seems a long way away and Summer?  Well almost impossible to imagine...sigh...until I came across this gorgous artists retreat in Kent.  I know this area pretty well and have spent some idyllic days on this beach, bbqs, swimming in the blue waters, eating fish and chips from the paper, licking fingers free of salt ...  When I saw these pictures for a short while I was warm from the memories and glad to be reminded that this cold snap is temporary.  Warmer days will come but for now, here's something to help you dream and remember...

Happy dreaming...

Image source:  JJ Locations

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

cauliflower and cumin soup

When I set out to make this soup, it was going to be cauliflower and thyme.  I had no thyme so had to improvise instead with what was in the cupboard.  This is quite a hearty soup in texture, but delicate in flavour.  Just right for those sunny days that are misleadingly cold...

You need:
An onion, finely chopped
Head of cauliflower, chopped
two cloves of garlic
750ml of vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 tsp of cumin powder
500 ml of milk
dash of double cream
handful of walnuts, toasted

First, chop your onion and garlic and saute until translucent.
Add your chopped up cauliflower and saute another few minutes before adding cumin and seasoning.

Next add stock and milk.  Simmer for 20 mins or until your vegetables are soft.
Puree, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Grate over some parmesan and stir in some cream.  Serve with the toasted walnuts on top.

Image source:  souvlakiformysoul

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stolen content and something beautiful

I hate to start the week off with a moan but I need to let off a bit of steam.  Maybe you can help?  It's come to my attention that someone 'out there' has been stealing some of my content; more expressly my blog header design.  It seems that they've taken my hard work and creative inspiration (and the designer's copyright) and using a pretty poor picture editor they've deleted my blog name and inserted their own.  I just don't get it.  My blog header was designed for me. All its components are directly related to ME!  The bridge to represent my roots, my cat Geordie, my love of books....and so on. Why?  Can't they think up their own header design? Sigh...What to do?  I tried to report it, but it doesn't seem to fit into any of the Blogger 'report abuse' forms... Any help greatly appreciated from the blogging community?

Anyway, moving on....
Isn't this gorgeous.  I can just smell the salt, hear the sounds of people laughing, waves splashing against the shore, and...more importantly...on this cold, cold day, I can feel the heat, warming my skin.  Bliss...(this is a teaser - more of this to come later in the week) 
Thank you my friends 'out there' for reading me. x
image source:  JJ Locations

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fiction Friday - The Girl You Left Behind

I have a little confession to make:  I always thought that Jojo Moyes was just chick lit, fodder for the masses.  Nothing wrong with that, but when I was browsing Amazon and looking for something more substantial, I hurried on past.  How wrong can a person be! I first came across JM when she was recommended by a friend, and with nothing to else to read, I downloaded, Me Before You.  I was hooked.  It's not often I come across a writer that knows how to construct a plot and run with it.  This writer has got it.  Her characters literally dance into your life, they're so real.  I wanted this novel to run and run.  Anyway, that's not what I wanted to write about today; today I want to present you with (fanfare) The Girl You Left Behind.  Where to start - the plot?  It begins in 1916 wartime France in a bar called Le Coq Rouge, which is run by two sisters Helene and Sophie.  Their husbands are away fighting in the war and their village is gradually overun by the Boche.  Le Coq Rouge becomes the favourite eating place for the local German soldiers and it is there that the Kommandant notices a painting of Sophie, painted by her husband, a student of Matisse.  He falls in love with it; with her.  The story of Sophie goes on to what seems to be a tragic ending, but the painting lives on and emerges in Part Two of the book, residing in a minimalist architects house in London owned by the young widow of said architect, Liv Halston.  Over a lost handbag, she meets Paul, who works for a company specialising in restoring lost works of art to their rightful owners.  Well, you know what's coming don't you?!  I'm not going to spoil this for you because you're going to find out for yourself when you read it - you are going to aren't you?!.

The two plotlines weave in amongst each other with ease and familiarity.  JM writes with great clarity, empathy and historic knowledge and the result is a great read.  Go get. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

beautiful things

1.  THE most amazing sunset - the sun, a huge flaming African ball of light; a blaze on the horizon.

2.  Suddenly, swooping towards me, so silent it's upon me and gone before I've quite registered.  A barn owl making it's pre-dusk recci.  White and downy, it's wings tinged with caramel, so close I can see it's expression.

3.  To be pampered, stroked, massaged and looked after.  To be doused in sweet smelling oils, that linger on my skin for hours.

4.  Sitting by a huge log fire as it crackles and spits at the wood; breathing in its deep resinous scent and sipping on a dry white wine.

5.  To watch the dawn break; tendrils of pink reaching over the dark thatched roofs, splintering the frost into a myriad of dancing colours.  The grass, shrouded in mist, ankle high.

What's beautiful in your life at the moment?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

weekend in brief

 So I know it's Tuesday, and this post should have gone out yesterday, theoretically anyway; however, my weekend was stretched out to include Monday, so here we are, Tuesday is officially (this week anyway) the new Monday.  I've just spent a wonderful three days in the Cotswolds.  The idea was to walk, sleep, eat and laze and I managed to do all of these things, and although I've come back home with a cold, I feel all the better for it.  
{Slow Sunday, Sloe Gin}

{Rejuvenating in the Daylesford Organic Spa - where I had a blissful treatment in a truly heavenly location}
{Daylesford  organic farm shop}

{Cotswold Legbars, spotted on a muddy walk}

{Nodding snowdrops and delicate primroses - Spring is a-comin'}

What a wonderful weekend - setting me up for the next half-term I hope.  Here's hoping this gorgeous sunny weather continues...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine wishes

February 14th, a day that is ignored, celebrated, or dreaded.  I'm firmly in the camp of the second of these...being a romantic at heart.  If there's no-one there to celebrate with do it on your own; cook yourself a lovely meal and have a decent glass of wine and ponder the words of poets the world over.  Love is not confined to this one day and there are many, many types of love to celebrate; the love between parent and child, siblings, friends.  So here's to the many faces of love - may you feel up to celebrating one of them today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

wednesday words - e.e. cummings on love

e.e. cummings - people either see his play with words and punctuation as an affectation, or his search for the purest and most complete expression of his thoughts and feelings. Whatever your feelings about his typography, few would deny he managed to capture human emotion with accuracy, weaving a spider's web of words to contain them in his poetry...with love being the theme of the week, I share these poems with you ...

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
- e. e. cummings ~
(Complete Poems, 1904-1962)
for H.T.

“i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh ... And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new.” 


What is your favourite poem on love?  or loss? or both?

Monday, February 11, 2013

How to make pasta fritta

It's a sad fact that I love pasta but it doesn't love me.  That is, when I eat it I always pay for it later...bloated, uncomfortable and very very sleepy!  So I've learned to stay clear of it when out for dinner, and it's not my go-to-stand-by supper anymore, sadly.  However, there is one exception to my pasta ban and that's pasta fritta, aka deep-fried pasta.  Very healthy.  I first came across this when out for lunch with a girlfriend and they were heaven.  Golden morsels of crispness, with the added crunch of Maldon salt.  A plateful with a cold glass of prosecco go a long way to healing all ills, in my book anyway.  So, I decided I'd try and make them myself.  The end result wasn't quite as delicious as the ones in the restaurant, but they definitely hit the spot and next time I'd leave them in the deep fat fryer slightly longer  - trial and error.  So, here's what I did.

1.  Cook 5 sheets of dried lasagne sheets in boiling water until al-dente.

2.  Drain well, and dry off with kitchen towel.
3.  Heat up fryer and cut up your lasagne sheets.  I cut mine into tortilla type shapes.

4.  Deep fry until golden and crispy and drain on more kitchen sheets.

5.  Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt or grated parmesan and serve with a cold glass of something delicious.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Paper love

It's just into February and Valentine's Day is fast approaching, so I thought I'd share this wonderful short film from Disney, just to get us in the mood. I've always loved the word serendipity, and this film is nothing, if not serendipity at it's best.  It's shot in black and white, set in the 1940's on a New York subway platform.  If this doesn't get you in the mood, then you have no romance in your soul!

This is just the trailer, so to watch the full film follow this link.  It's just magical and made me smile all day.

Still on the Valentine theme, some of you may remember my attempts at making my own origami valentine heart here.  Well, I've tracked down some other freebie printables for you to make your own love treats this year.

1. Martha does it again
with this accordion card

2. These cute love arrows

3.  Can't wait to make these adorable little tags

4. and a book of  love coupons to be redeemed at your leisure

Whatever you're planning, maybe these little treats will make it seem a bit more personal.  Have fun!