Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - if you are in Fairbanks, Alaska...

Time is relative...two weeks is not long when your thesis is due in that time but if you are four and your birthday is in two weeks, then it feels like an eternity! Just because I am not in Tuesday anymore, doesn't mean that it is not Tuesday somewhere this case in the very edges of the timezone so officially this still is Ten on Tuesday...

1. Home school diaries are the beginning of all evil. Young sir has discovered that he is supposed to like McDonald's, no no, not only like but love it! We drove past the golden arches the other day and he piped up 'I love McDonalds!!!' He has been twice, ate few fries, took a bite of the burger and announced he'd rather have fish and chips - definitely wouldn't match my idea of 'loving something'! As I told him that he replied 'but I like the food now. I'll try it and I love it'...peer pressure aged 4!

2. The other night young sir had Pluto as his bedtime buddy, I checked him just before we went to bed and saw this:

3. We have discovered there is paint and then there is paint. We got some paint from the Little Green Paint Company to paint the cladding in the bathroom and it is so nice to paint with that we are becoming little green fans

4. We went for nice bluey grey colour - juniper ash. The colour reminds me of palette used in old nordic furniture and interior design, very muted and calm but yet strong at the same time. Still deliberating whether to paint the wall above the panelling in a slightly paler blue.

5. We had few books of Carl Larsson's paintings when I was growing up and I always adored the images of their home. I love the creativity (him and his wife where both artists so not surprising really) and the use of colour. Wondering whether to attempt painting the borders of the panels in the bathroom door to add a touch of Carl Larsson to the house...

6. I was looking for a reference and came across article titled 'Familiar aliens: Teletubbies and postmodern childhood'...seriously???

7. If you saw a shrub driving around Whitley Bay yesterday that was me. A friend was digging up a shrub from her garden and asked if I wanted it. Of course I did. Only it was rather large! And the boot of the rover is not designed for anything bigger than old man's weekend the rootball went in and rest of it hang out - looking from behind, you could not see the car at all...

8. I made my favourite chocolate cake over the weekend and tried sprinkling grated chocolate on top as suggested by Helen and it worked wonders

9. Still undecided on the scarecrow. Captain America, Wonder woman and Papa Smurf are the options so far.

10. We cooked chicken with 40 cloves of garlic over the weekend. It is one of the easiest and yummiest chicken recipes there is, especially if you got a butcher who cuts your whole chicken up for you as all you need to do then is to throw some herbs on it, lots of garlic and cook it for couple of hours...

And as usual here's Helen and through her links to other ladies who do ten on tuesday

Friday, April 20, 2012

On happiness and right & wrong

A little while ago in the course of a conversation with a friend I made a comment 'as long a you are happy' to a decision she had made. Afterwards (whilst doing washing up - the source of all good ideas) the absurdity of my comment struck me.

Somehow, rather than thinking what is right and what is wrong and basing our decisions on our moral standards, I was agreeing with something to be right based on whether the person was happy or not.

I am not against happiness at all, don't get me wrong. However I think that having happiness the 'norm' of guiding our decisions can be misleading.

I think as a society we base our decisions far too often on our happiness rather than what we believe to be right. You can see it when you read news. Marital affairs are not wrong anymore (hmmm...maybe reading the celebrity gossip in this case). As long as the erring person 'is happy' they can't be condoned for what they did because they only wanted to be happy...what can you say?

I would be happy to do many things, but it would be not right for me to do them. I would be happy to buy a plane ticket to Finland, lots of nice kitchen things, lots of nice garden things - the list would be endless. I would be happy to rant and rave when I feel others are wrong (i.e. I am right). I would be happy to just spend time with people I really like and avoid those who challenge me.

Happy but not right.

Furthermore we have been led to think stuff equals happiness. The commercialisation of society has led us to think that everything can be purchased. The sooner the better. Saving up is seen as old fashioned, outdated value in the world of 'unlimited-store-credit-to-buy-stuff-you-really-don't-need-but-oh-it-will-make-you-feel-so-good'. The instantaneous nature of modern purchasing has robbed us from the pleasure of saving up (at times for a looooooooooooong time) to get something we really value. What makes us happy is the measure of what is right, not being prudent and realistic about the state of our bank balance and whether we really need the latest gadget.

Anyway - happiness is supposed to be an inside job - not based on what we do or our surroundings...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: 1,2,3,4,5...once I caught a fish alive

1. Young sir has learnt to use the cd player, turning it on and all. Even switching it from the ipod to a cd...genius or digital native according to a theory

2. The downside of this new found skill is that I have silly nursery rhymes going around and around in my head all day long. Before, when we were in charge of dj:ing, nursery rhymes were a treat, now they seemed to be turned on every time I leave the room...there is only so many times you can listen to '1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive' and 'Miss Polly had a dolly that was sick, sick, sick'!

3. I once did actually catch a fish alive, a tiny little plaice. When we were little I remember spending hours trying to catch fish in the lakes, running madly and belly flopping on them with no avail. This poor guy had been washed up by the tide and was left in a tiny pool as the tide started to go out again

4. Sometimes is easy to loose perspective in the middle of being a mum and this article reminded me how precious and privileged it is to be one

5. With the lighter evenings young sir has been playing outside with his little friend next door. Yesterday they were playing hide and seek, counting to ten and taking turns to run and hide behind the same tree each time

6. I made rhubarb ice cream with my trusty ice cream maker the other day and it was delicious.

7. I have discovered that young sir's idea of beautiful hair is sliders (or hair pins) - the more the better. I've got a little tin of sliders that I had far too long time ago (including hello kitty pair and one with teddies) that he has found so on Saturday I went to sainsbury's with teddy bear pin in my hair.

8. Young sir also complemented my hair after putting a collection of hair pins in by saying it is beautiful, just like his little friend next door's hair, bless!

9. Bathroom is advancing, still no shower but tiling is pretty much done and tomorrow is going to be the day when the amazing husband will find out if he cut the pipes for the shower the right length...

10. I need to plant some seeds on the allotment this weekend, so far we'll have some pretty flowers and potatoes if I don't get my act together

Monday, April 16, 2012

R is for rhubarb

The rhubarb on the allotment is flourishing. In Finland rhubarb and strawberries are in season together and I have lovely memories of rhubarb and strawberry compote and rhubarb and strawberry juice from being little. In England the rhubarb is good couple of months ahead of strawberries so I've had to find some new ways to use it - apart from the universal use of using the huge leaves as a pretend umbrellas and runnign around in the rain with them...and it might not be as socially acceptable t do it when you are 30+ than when you are 3+...

One of the best recipes I've found is a yummy rhubarb and cinnamon cake from a Riverford recipe leaflet send with my veggie box ages ago.

It's perfect recipe. Eat it hot with some custard or ice cream and it's a wonderful pudding. Eat it cold with some cream or even on its own and it is equally good. You can serve it any way you like and it always tastes good!

Here's the recipe if your taste buds are tempted:
60 gr butter (virtually 'fat free')
350 gr soft brown sugar (but not sugar free)
3 eggs
few drops of vanilla essence (optional)
300 gr self raising flour (for those in Finland, just normal flour + 1tsp baking powder)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp of ground cinnamon (I usually put a bit more)
250 ml natural yogurt (the recipe uses creme fraiche but I never have that in the house when needed!)
zest + juice of 1 orange
400 gr rhubarb (4 stalks) cut into 1cm pieces

topping 3-4 tbl spoons of brown sugar mixed with one tsp of cinnamon (I usually forget this)

Oven temperature 180c for 75 minutes

It's simple, mix together butter and sugar, add eggs one at the time + vanilla, add flour, mix a bit, add orange juice, zest & yogurt, mix a bit more. Then mix in the rhubarb, tip in in a tin (24cm, deep round cake tin), sprinkle with the topping, stick it in the oven and wait. I usually check the cake after an hour or so to make sure it doesn't get too dry. It's ready when a skewer inserted comes out clean. Take it out, eat some when its warm and save some for later if you can :) Enjoy!

PS. I have noticed myself becoming a bit of a rhubarb snob, looking very condescendingly at people in the supermarket who are buying rhubarb, which always look so dry and shrivelled compared to mine...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday has come too quickly for me to get up to ten!

Bank Holidays mess up the order of the week and it does not feel like Tuesday today. I am struggling to think of Ten so here is seven instead :)

1. My explanations about Easter Bunny seem not to have had much impact. When young sir got his egg on Easter Sunday he sure enough asked if Easter Bunny had hidden it in the garden...

2. Young sir was so pleased with his egg that he was "so happy that my heart is bursting". Bless!

3. He was also fascinated by the idea of Jesus dying on the cross and came up with numerous questions including: How many times has Jesus died? Is he dead now? When is his birthday? How old is Jesus? Easter Bunny is definitely easier to explain ;)

4. Note to self - when you are buying a toilet, make sure you buy a seat for it as well. After three days of having a newly installed toilet, without a toilet seat, we are back to the luxurious world of toilet with a seat - it's the little things that make a difference...

5. We are undecided on what colour to paint the bathroom, but as we are yet to get a new bath that is a minor concern at the moment.

6. Tonight at story time young sir wanted to read both Chuggington and Thomas the Tank Engine. In my books Thomas definitely wins with expressions like "bird brain", "dizzy thing", "lazywings" and having a Fat Controller. Poor Chuggington's main attraction is the pretty pictures. But young sir likes both...

7. I've got four weeks until submission - the countdown is I am off to spend the evening with the thesis rather than trying to think of three more things to say :)

Here's link to Helen and others through her page to see if they've been more successful in getting to ten after the-chocolate filled-weekend-haze than I have

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Ten on Tuesday with snow whirling horizontally past the window

1. The logic of little people is a mystery. I made a rhubarb-cinnamon cake few days ago. Young sir missed his slice the first day as he got off the table without finishing his meal *cruel parents*. The following evening he was glued to his chair until the cake appeared. He happily declared: "I love rhubarb cake but I don't like rhubarb" - no paradox to him, just a fact

2. I am not sure f I which I dislike more, people who don't clean up after their dogs or people who clean up after their dogs but then leave the little bags hanging from branches or gateposts!

3. I planted some fritillaria bulbs last autumn. Some in the borders and some in the lawn. The ones on the lawn got quickly flattened by the budding football star but the ones in the borders faired  a bit better. I love their unusual pattern and how the colours complement my hellebores.

4. My bread maker is on top of the list of my essential kitchen gadgets. I can be domestic goddess without having to do any kneading. Freshly made rolls, homemade pizza dough - the machine does it all. I had some fun experimenting with poppy seeds and bread rolls on Saturday.

5. Owning an old man's car (read: big, green rover) is a blessing in disguise. The allotments are by a cul-de-sac street with parking on one side and turning point in the end. Last week I drove to the allotment (shamefully increasing the carbon footprint of my veggies) and noticed there was a car in the turning point. There was only one parking spot left on the street so I parked, only to realise that the car in the turning point had been intending to do the same! So when he finally got to the allotments after finding a spot on another street, I apologised for pinching his parking spot. To which he replied:'no, it was some chap who parked in it'. Obviously, a woman with a young child can not possibly drive a big, green rover!

6. Related to number 5. Driving a big, green rover is a disadvantage in roundabouts. People assume you are old and have slow reaction times and try to sneak in front of you...

7. Young sir is overly excited about the snow being forecast for over Easter. He wants to check the 'weathercast' every morning. And finally today, it arrived. Cold. Wet. Freezing. Did I mention cold? And out he went for a total of 10 seconds after which he came in and announced he needed a hot chocolate.

8. Whilst I am very excited of the first spear appearing in the asparagus bed we planted last year and will be even more excited next year when I can harvest them for the first time!

9. My handy helper is experimenting with alternative ways to dry the laundry. Here's the double decker:

10. There was an interesting guy interviewed on Radio 4 this morning, Stephen Fear, the first entrepreneur in residence at the British Library. He sounded really nice, down to earth and genuinely excited about being able to help others to reach their dreams. Very inspiring!

As per usual you can find Helen here and links to other lovely ladies and their Tens