Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boaty bunting

When hubby's godson was born this summer I was looking for fun ideas for a bit different bunting for a baby boy. After trawling through mountains of pictures on pinterest with nothing to inspire me. I decided to create my own and boaty bunting was the result.

Once I knew what I was doing, they were quick and simple to make. If you fancy giving them ago - here's how:

1. Cut out the hulls and the sails

2. Embroider letters on if you fancy a name on your line of boats.

3. Sew the hulls and sails together. I made the boats fiddlier than I needed to by sewing the hulls first, turning them the right way out, pinning on the sails and sewing along the 'hem'. Then turning the sails over and zig-zagging on the mast. Next time I'll probably just pin the hull and sail part together, slightly overlapping and zig-zag along the outsides and the overlapping seem.

4. Sew on a button and a loop to hang the boat on the line. Or alternatively you can sew the boats directly onto the line.

And they are done :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apple pie with hearts

Come in from a rainy walk in the woods and smell the wonderful combination of apple and cinnamon in the air would be my description of the perfect autumn smell. Leaves falling, evenings getting darker, rain, rain, rain and lots of yummy puddings.

One of my favourite things of the allotment is a mature cooking apple tree that we inherited with the plot. The first year it was laden with apples, they store relatively well so were eating them well into the new year. Last year was abysmal year for apples - too cold for the bumble bees to do their stuff! This year there is a good crop again so the men in the house are happy as it means plenty of crumbles and apple pies.

Last week after school Young sir and I made and apple pie. It's simple, it's quick and vaguely healthy too - apples are part of one of your five-a-day after all ;) And the beauty of using little hearts to cover it is that even with your handy helper laying them on in the most haphazard method possible - it still looks amazing!

I cheat when it comes to pastry - I hardly ever let it rest in the fridge for the recommended 'at least 30 minutes'. My secret trick is two pieces of cling film and a bit of flour. Place the pastry between the pieces of cling film and roll away until the pastry is the right size.  This also makes it wonderfully easy to lift the rolled out pastry to the pie dish, just take the top cling film off, lift the pastry into pie dish and peel of the remaining cling film.

And here's the recipe we used

150 gr   butter/margarine
1 tbsp    sugar
1            egg
1/2 tsp   baking powder
200 gr   plain flour


Peel & chop the apples, stew with some sugar, dash of water and cinnamon until softish.

Mix butter and margarine. Add rest of the ingredients and work until pastry is well combined. If you got time let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 mins (makes it easier to roll)  Divide pastry in two, roll out a disk big enough for you pie dish and put it in so that it comes up to the edges. Fill with your lovely smelling stewed apple mixture. Roll out an other disk to cover the pie or cut out little hearts and cover the surface of the pie with them. Brush with egg or sugared water. Bake at 200c for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot or cold with custard, cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fridge revelations...

I have been challenged to show the contents of my fridge by my sister Eeva. My initial reaction was to wait a few days until I've been to supermarket and the shelves look less bare!  But then honesty or lazyness won so here is my fridge and everything in it was the day I was challenged to take part.

We have an undercounter fridge that is usually decorated with random assortment of magnets. The alphabets were a Christmas present for Young sir from grannie. Once in a blue moon he sits on the floor and tries to spell a work - fog was his latest attempt. On the fridge is also a picture of us taken last December by my talented photographer sister Hanna.  She recently photographed my second youngest sister Roosa's wedding so if you want to be nosy, there are some gorgeous photos of my sisters on Hanna's website.

Back to the fridge. Here it is in all it's glory. The vege draws are pretty empty as we've been eating veggies (read beans, tomatoes and carrots) from the allotment over the summer. Pick & eat on the same day, no need for fridge.  There were two rather sorry looking red chillies, bit of lettuce and some parsley (from the allotment again) in the draws which looked far too sorry to be photographed!

Let's tackle the door first. The standard items that we always have are are milk, squash and tonic water. On the whole we don't drink squash that much but when we do Rocks organic is our favourite. I like the blackcurrant (reminds me of juice my grannie used to make when I was little) and hubby likes the orange. Young sir likes both - it's his weekend treat with splash of tonic day he'll discover that other kids drink pop ;)

On the next shelf up, I've got one of my favourite standby items creamed coconut (condensed solidified coconut milk?). We cook curries quite often and creamed coconut is handy as it lasts for ages (way beyond the 'once opened please use within 4 weeks') and you can just chop of however much you want and add it to your concoction. Next to it is pesto, the stable for quick after school meals. Hiding behind the coconut is sweet cucumber pickle that was given to us. It's yummee on bread with some cheese or ham...mmmm....

The most prized possession of my fridge is liquorice ice cream sauce that my sister Hellu (fyi - for those wondering about the number of sisters - I have eight and half of them are mentioned in this blog post!) brought when she came for a visit in the summer. Liquorice ripple ice cream is one of my all time favourite ice creams. The closest I can get to it in England is squirting some of the sauce on vanilla ice cream and closing my eyes and imaging it's proper liquorice ripple ice cream. Behind the pesto is a packet of sweetcorn seeds. Seeds store best when they are cool or so they say so I thought I'd give it ago as I only planted half of them this year.

Sharing honoured place along the same shelf with the liquorice sauce are mustards.  I love chicken pie. It's a great way of using up left over roast chicken and adding a big spoonful of wholegrain mustard makes it taste amazing. Likewise adding a small spoonful of english mustard to a stew adds nice flavour to the gravy. Nest to the mustards is a bag of maltesers. The only reason why they are still in the fridge and not in my tummy is that they belong to young sir.

Now for the main part of the fridge. I've got some coriander - again for curries. I've found it keeps longer when you stand it in some water. Hiding in the back there is a tub of houmous - the one of the few things I think tastes better when it's shop bought, I've tried couple of times to make my own and each time the result has not been worth the effort that I've put into making it! Another staple that I usually have in the fridge too is natural yogurt, I use it in cakes (instead of soured cream), quiches and curries. The out of the ordinary item in the fridge this time is a cartoon of mango and passion fruit smoothie, we usually buy apple or orange juice but the smoothies were on offer this time :)

 The top shelf is rather a mixed up lot. The cheese should be on the top compartment of the door but it was too big to fit in and is residing temporarily here until we've eaten enough for it to fit in its normal place. The grapes are in the fridge for safe keeping, if I put them in the fruit bowl young sir can demolish the lot in less than 10 minutes. So to make sure we all get to have some grapes they are rationed out. Next to the cheese is some egg whites. They keep for ages and you never know when you feel like whipping up a meringue. There's also a bottle of wine that we brought back from our holiday. We camped on a vineyard and bought some lovely Austrian wine from there to take home.

 And as my sister predicted we have some left over beans in the fridge. As I've come to learn baked beans are an essential part of the English diet.

For those carnivores who are worried over the lack of meat in the fridge...we are not vegeterians. We have lovely butchers around the corner and I usually go and get whatever meat I'm cooking from there on the day. But you don't need to worry over my legs getting tired from walking to the butchers either - we eat vegetarian meals during the week as hubby gets meaty lunch at work and young sir has meat with his school meals and have a meat feast at the weekends.

So that ends the contents of my fridge. There were bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise that didn't' get properly introduced to you. Neither did I show a close up of the tub containing left over pizza or bowl with left over crumble. You'll just have to imagine those. In the time before digital cameras, a tupperware tub full of 35mm slide film was a standard feature in our fridge - like seeds film keep best in the fridge too!

So now it is my turn to challenge someone else to reveal the contents of their fridge. Not sure if this is allowed in the rules of blog challenges but I would like to challenge to lovely ladies. One of them is my sister Hanna (yes, the one that takes photographs but she also bakes amazing cakes) and the other one is  MamaDeano whom I've never met but whose blog I found through a mutual friend and thoroughly enjoy reading.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Parenting advice from strangers

Rant warning!!! I was happily writing a nice little blog about Buddy when I felt like I needed to have a rant. I finished my post about Young sir's new friend and started a new post for the if you don't want to read my rant, please look at the cute pictures on the previous post about Buddy. If you are curious about the rant, please read on.

When Young sir was about two years old, he took a bunny with him to the supermarket. I was doing my shopping, he was doodling along dangling the bunny by a leg. Out of the blue, or rather down the flour and sugar isle, came a crinkled and grey old man. He took one look of Young sir and his favourite bunny, knelt down next to him and said "you should tell your mum, you are far too old to have a teddy". 

Young sir hadn't been listening so he never heard what the man said - and at age two probably didn't really understand what the man was saying even if he had. I replied rather indignantly that "you are never too old to have a teddy" and marched off with Young sir and bunny in my wake.

This "you need to tell your mummy" is the subtle rhetoric many completely random strangers use when they disagree with your parenting choices. "You should tell your mummy to put a sunhat on you", "you should tell your mummy to strap you in when you sit in a shopping trolley", "you should tell your mum to put a rain coat on you", "you should tell your mummy..."

It is amazing how many strangers feel compelled to give you advice on how to dress your children, how they should be walking in the street...the list goes on. They disagree with a choice that you have made as a parent and they feel that you ought to know that you are in the wrong. But rather than telling you face to face, they use the indirect approach. An other favourite used by random strangers is "if I was your mother..."

So dear stranger, if I meet you in a street/supermarket/playground and you disagree with my parenting choices, and if you absolutely have to share your views please talk to ME - not to my child. And even better, please just hold your tongue. There is nothing more helpful than having constructive feedback from people who know you and know your child and that I welcome with open arms - we all need help from friends and people around us to do the best we can with what we've got. But seriously - a two second judgement of a behaviour of a child you are passing and commenting upon it, what good can that do?

Phew...rant over.

PS. I also think it is rather ironic too that children are discouraged from talking to strangers but perfect strangers feel that they are allowed to and have the right (usually given to them by grey hair, number of children they have brought up and looked after) to talk to children they've never met before!

Young sir and Buddy

We have had a new member in our family since July. Buddy, a brown build-a-bear dog, was given to Young sir on the last day of the school by his year six buddy James who was leaving for high school. Since then Young sir and Buddy have been inseparable. Buddy gets strapped into a spare car set when we are driving somehwere. He has breakfast with Young sir. He voices 'his' opinions accompanied with loud woofs. 

Most importantly, Buddy came on holiday. Young sir was slightly concerned as Buddy had "never been on a ferry before" but our canine friend survived the calm crossing from North Shields to Amsterdam. Buddy visited the medieval town of Krems and more importantly the outdoor pool there. He came along to heurigen (wine and cold meat sandwiches served by local vineyards in little wine cellars) in Rohrendorf. Went up a mountain in a cable car in Galtur. Came down a mountain in Young sir's rucksack. And each night he snuggled next to Young sir in his sleeping bag. Very sweet!