Wednesday 28 September 2011

Not Exactly Bread...

On the weekend I was on my way to buy Lavash bread for my in-laws in a part of town I don't often get a chance to look around in. Next door to the bread shop were two small antique shops and I couldn't stop myself from having a quick browse around...

These three old solid silver candlesticks came home with me...

I don't mind that one of them is missing a 'partner'.
I think mixing different sized candlesticks together is rather nice.

Oh, btw - I didn't forget to buy the bread!


Tuesday 27 September 2011

I Have Received a Letter...

I was very surprised when I received a letter from the police saying the guy who broke in to our house 2 years ago and stole all my jewellery has been caught and sentenced to 4 years
- guess he had done a lot more to get such a long sentence.

But there is an interesting twist to this story:
He wants to send us a letter asking for our apology.

I can't help feeling sorry for him.
4 years is a long time to give up of your life for such a petty crime.
Besides, somewhere there might be a mother and father in despair of their son's actions.

I hope he will turn his life around.

Monday 26 September 2011

Welcoming Autumnal Beauty...

In preparation for Christmas (yes!, I know it is early) I started collecting some pine cones from the garden. I remember last year not finding any as the gardeners (we have gardeners that take care of the communal part of the garden (no arguments!)- could have used them in our private part, too...) had been to meticulous in sweeping them up, so I thought I would not be caught out this year!

I have also noticed on several blogs that using nature's own in various decorations is 'in' these days... So, instead of waiting till Christmas I filled a basket and put the cones by the entrance door as a small welcome.

We get several different types of heather-looking plants over here and this purple and white variety caught my eye at the garden centre. It now forms part of the welcome outside our door.

The wall by the entrance to our little cul-de-sac is literally 'on fire'!

I think this weather worn and dried number post is rather charming. Notice the cobwebs! I actually think even THAT is charming in the sunshine...

And if you look really closely you can see somebody else also visiting the old number post...


Sunday 25 September 2011

Going Back in Time...

This weekend's special event at Wimpole Hall was "Wimpole at War". We were in fact not aware of any special event going on, but stumbled across it when we went down there with my in-laws yesterday. Glad I had brought my camera!

Lots of people had arrived dressed up in 1940s style. It was like we had experienced time travel! In part of the grounds there were some form of jumble sale as well as more established vintage sellers from the 1940s.
Funny how these fashions seem to be coming back again. I loved looking at the hats... Will that ever come back again...? I guess the hairstyle has to suit the hats, too.

There were several lovely antique cars on the grounds and they were also selling Victorian fabrics for £2.50 a meter! Wish I was a better seamstress..

Friday 23 September 2011

Happiness is...That Friday Feelin'!

Every Friday morning just after 8 am 
Chris Evans plays on his radio show, The Breakfast show on BBC2,
Sammy Davis Jr's "The Candy Man"
from Roald Dahl's story 
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

Yep, that epitomises that Friday Feelin' and we can't help belting it out and singing along...


The Professor is coming home,
in-laws are well installed
and the sun is shining!

Bring on the weekend!

What gives YOU that Friday feeling...?

Thursday 22 September 2011

A New Fad...?

For the first time ever,
I see to my interest that Lakeland is promoting Kransekake Pans ,
appealing to those looking to make something 
"a little bit different to the norm"...

Apparently Kransekake is very
to make...

Good luck, I say.

I have in the past had a hard time making them with similar non-stick forms.
I think it is like with sandkake pans - you need well used ones for it to be "easy"!
So, maybe this Christmas I will get it right since my Kransekake pans have had some (rather unsuccessful) use...?

Perhaps Lakeland is hoping Kransekake baking will be the new fad after macarons...?

I have borrowed the picture from Lakeland's website.
And another thing:
Excuse me - where are the bonbons and the flags????

It is not right, just not right...


Tuesday 20 September 2011

Busy Days!

It is a bit quiet on my front these days 
- not much time for the blog.
My dear in-laws arrived before the weekend
and we have been busy settling them in and
spending time with them.

This is a busy time of year for many people I guess, not just us in the educational sector.
Conferences, meetings, plans, budgets, as well as the needs of new staff, new visitors, new students all need to be addressed.
It is like everybody have hatched and thought up a lot of ideas and plans while on summer holidays...!

But on the whole I like it!
I like being busy.
But I also like to see an end to this particularly stressful period... probably will stay this intense for another couple of months...

In the meantime -
Thank God for Yoga!
It is literally a life saver and keeping both my mind sane as well as my body flexible.

New class tonight and
maybe a glass (diet-Coke) in the pub next door afterwards....?


Saturday 17 September 2011

Knitted Frilly Scarf

I was inspired by Barbro from the lovely blog Barbros Lille Atelier to knit a frilly scarf with a new type of yarn.
Itwas super easy once I got my head around the technique.
It was done in an evening.
Suits me fine as I get really impatient with time consuming projects...

You can also find instructions on YouTube.

Possible idea for Christmas present?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Recommended Viewing: Eat, Pray, Love

On a blustery autumnal evening I watched the much acclaimed film
'Eat, Pray, Love'
with Julia Roberts.

This is a 'find-yourself-film' and has received a lot of good reviews.
Did I like it?
Not sure.
I didn't dislike it, but I felt something was missing.
Not sure what.
Maybe I didn't feel her initial unhappiness and WHY she needed this journey? 

Still, an ok way to spend a windy evening,
but I guess not planning to watch it again says something...

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Doing Without...

Sometimes I think about all the 'stuff' we surround ourselves with to improve our lives. 
Do they always make it better? 
As always, I guess it depends on what we are talking about...

When we were on holidays in France we decided we didn't want to watch TV. There was a huuuge flat screen TV in the flat, but nobody was interested in becoming familiar with French TV. We read, talked and used Ipads for entertainment. 
I felt the evenings were longer and we got so much more out of them.

We have now been without our car for two weeks after The Best Neighbour in the World accidentally backed into our car outside our house (poor thing, she was devastated). It was only a rather superficial scratch with a dent on the driver's door and needed to go into the repair shop to have the entire door replaced! This is where the 'fun' (NOT) started as the company handling the claim (outsourced by the insurance company) would not give me a replacement car as my licence was not EU, but FOREIGN! This has NEVER been a problem before. After discussing, arguing, shouting, screaming, speaking with one supervisor after the other and threatening with NEVER using them again (not sure how worried they were as I hope not to have too many car accidents like this in the future), I was still without a replacement car. To be honest, I think I am loosing my 'touch'...!

So, this means that I have been without a car for two weeks. 
And it hasn't been much of a problem, to be honest. 
Our 'guilty' neighbour took Our Boy to the guitar lesson last week and this week we walked our bikes while balancing the guitar on the handlebar. 
Ok, admittedly it was a bit of an inconvenience, but the sun was shining so not too much suffering. 


All right, I know I am lucky as I bike to work and have food delivered after shopping online. 
There are of course friends I can't get to see without using the car and other places I would have liked to go, so it would have been nice to have the car.  
But to be honest apart from this, we haven't struggled much.

Back to my point -
I wonder what else we take for granted and think we NEED that we can do without...?

By the way, the car is being returned TODAY!

(And the Yoga class starts up again!)
Happy Day!!


Saturday 10 September 2011

Tried and Tested: Hummingbird Bakery Pumpkin Cupcakes

The weather has turned really autumnal and made me think of the next event on the calendar - Halloween. I KNOW it is more than a month left, but we have actually already seen Christmas decorations in the shops... 
THAT is just out of order, I think!

I have never used pumpkin in cakes before even if I have made lots of savoury dishes using pumpkin. The treat for this weekend is therefore Pumpkin Cupcakes which I found a recipe for in 'The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook' where I previously found a great recipe for vanilla cupcakes

I made these pumpkin cupcakes without frosting. 
Even if they are perhaps not as pretty to look at I sometimes find the frosting makes the cupcakes too sweet and might be at bit of overkill. 
But that is just my preference.

The pumpkin cupcakes turned out really moist, tasty and not too sweet.
Will probably make them again 
(especially since I still have half a tin of pumpkin purée left)!

Mix well to a sandy consistency:
120 gram plain flour
140 gram sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
40 gram butter (room temperature)

add first
120 ml milk
2 eggs
and at the end
200 grams tinned pumpkin purée

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, two-thirds full and bake at 170 degrees for about 20 mins.
Leave to cool.

Spoon Cream cheese frosting on when the cupcakes are baked and cold. 
You can find a recipe for the frosting here

I got 14 (not too large) cupcakes out of this recipe

Friday 9 September 2011

Nasty Business!

It was kindly pointed out to me yesterday that an error message appeared if you came to visit my blog.

I checked with several browsers, but it was only Google Crome that identified this problem.

I was very worried! 

It turns out I don't have any nasty malware or other 'bugs' (VERY grateful for that!), 
but another blog (fotoverden) on my blog list apparently has...

Somehow I was apparently associated with this nastiness, just because it was on my blog list... 
The rather scary part was that this was not a blog I recalled, even if I do read several very inspirational and good photo blogs. There is a chance it is a looong time since there was any activity on this blog and somehow it has been targeted.

So, a good part of my peaceful Friday evening has been spent 
figuring out how to get rid of it 
(with good help from Our Boy!), 
changing my passwords,
testing and testing again,
and should now not be associated with any 'disease' spreading blogs!

I hope!!!

Might be a hint for other bloggers to change their passwords every so often 
and be on the alert...!

Stay safe!

Friday Country Living Temptation...

My lovely colleague often passes on to me the
Country Living Magazine
when she is done with it.

She brought in to the office this months issue already today...
A bit naughty - it is so tempting to have it on the desk!

I was good and only took a picture of it (for the blog!) and put it away till I get home...


I heard another variety of this the other day -

Thank God It is the Weekend
Thank God I am a Woman...!


Have a lovely weekened,
whereever you are
whatever the weather
whatever you are reading!

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Tried and Tested: Mast-o-Musir

picture borrowed from
 I love Persian food! 
For those of you not familiar with this cuisine, there are clear similarities with Turkish or Greek food. Persian dishes use a lot of fresh ingredients, and a lot of herbs and different pulses. 

The 'problem' is that many Persian dishes take a long time to prepare and in a busy household  we only enjoy Persian food on weekends. 
I have learnt cooking Persian food by watching my mother-in-law and reading cookbooks. However, after 26 years with The Professor I still find it hard to make Persian rice... 
But I have mastered many other of the traditional dishes!


My in-laws are due to visit us soon and we are very lucky as my mother-in-law is a great cook who enjoys cooking the traditional dishes for us... 
Yes, I know we are spoilt!

One of the simplest dishes is Mast-o-musir which literally means yogurt and shallots. 
I am sure many will recognise the similarities between Mast-o-musir and tzatziki. The use of shallots instead of garlic offer a  delicate cross between onions and garlic. I have a jar of dried shallots from which I soak a handful of shallots for an hour or two to revive them and reduce any bitterness. You should be able to find dried shallots in most ethnic food shops but you can use fresh shallots, too.

Mast-o-musir is often enjoyed as a side dish to any rice dishes or eat it by itself with pita, bread or potato chips (or cut up vegetables if you want a healthier alternative!). I prefer to use Greek yogurt as it is creamier than regular plain yogurt, but you don't have to.

3 cups of yogurt
a handful of dried, soaked shallots (or 2 fresh shallots)
salt, pepper to taste

Dice the shallots finely and mix it well with the yogurt and salt/pepper
Cover it and leave it to settle in the fridge for a while.


Tuesday 6 September 2011

Second Series of Downton Abbey Coming Soon!


On a grey and blustery autumnal day I just heard great news:
- the second series of Downton Abbey is scheduled to start here in the UK on ITV1 on Sunday 18 September! 
I hope it will be shown in other countries soon, too!

Like many others I loooved this series the first time around and I have been waiting excitedly for the second series! 
I really look forward to re-making the acquaintances with Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton and Elizabeth McGovern again!

Monday 5 September 2011

Rude Awakening...

Today was the first day back at work after the holidays. 

Talk about feeling like being thrown in at the deep end... 

I have to admit that I check emails daily when I am away (normally in the evening when often any problem has already resolved itself!), but I am good at choosing what MUST be dealt with and what can wait. 

However, I think many knew I was away and didn't email me, but rather came with it 'all' today...

The picture above is from our holidays when we walked passed a relaxed group of people playing cards in a park in Antibes. 
Looks nice and relaxing, don't you think? 
Wouldn't mind a few more weeks with this kind of activities, I think... 
Actually, come to think of  it, the average age was a little high in this group. 
I don't think I am ready for that kind of life yet, after all... 


Our Boy was supposed to start year 11 today, but I made him stay home as he had a slight temperature and a cold. I took him to the doctor this morning as he also had an ear infection while we were on holidays and I worried this would flare up again. Fortunately nothing sinister going on and I think we are looking at him going to school tomorrow. 

Mothers don't stop worrying about their kids, even if they are 15 and a head taller than us, do we?

Sunday 4 September 2011

Summer Projects Become Autumn Projects

I had sooo many plans for all the handicraft I wanted do this summer. 
Well, somehow the summer has more or less gone by, and many other things came in the way. 
Not to worry - none of them were so important that they can't be added to the 'fall list' instead


One of the things I had planned was to make some plate protectors. 
You know, what you put in between each of your good plates so they don't rub and cause damage to each other. I had brought so many of Mamma's lovely things over this summer and I want to make sure I keep them as well as she did. Getting some more storage would be one way to go...

Garnstudio  has a number of patterns for small tablecloths (they do them in several languages) and I made this one on the boat going to Denmark this summer:

It was the finest/thinnest yarn I could find in the shop, but it still turned out chunkier than I had envisaged.

So, while in France I stumbled across a little yarn shop in Cannes and after a lot of body language (my French vocabulary is sadly not that fluent in 'crochet')  the lady understood I wanted very fine yarn for crocheting. 

I used the same pattern and the same sized hook, and it was almost like crocheting with cobweb and very hard to keep the thread taught enough to avoid big ugly unintentional loops.

I remember I was once given a large knitted tablecloth and don't think I ever appreciated the hard work it must have been as it was also made with a similar fine, thin thread. 
To be honest, the chunkier version works better between the plates as protection as you can't really notice the thin one between the plates. 

I might do a search on the internet for a thread that is something in between the two I tried. 

I just have to make a couple of dozen more of them... 
Think I need a new pattern, I get bored without a challenge!

Friday 2 September 2011

Business Idea...?

I came across this website called My Pretty Tea Party and thought it was a very different and interesting business idea.

The concept is simply that you can rent vintage china and tableware for your party! 
They offer an eclectic mix of complementary patterns and I can imagine it can look stunning. There are some lovely pictures on the website. 
Nice to see the old pieces coming to good use again. 

I have to admit I rarely use my nice cups,  but it sure is nice to set a nicely laid out table.

It must be such fun looking for additional stock to the business...


Thursday 1 September 2011

Travellin' man...

'The Hat' in France... 
The Professor meant that his travelling hat with its pin collection was worthy of a blog entry, so here it is...


The hat was bought at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida about 7 years ago. 
It is his trusted travelling companion against the sun when we are on holidays and the pins represent the various cities we have visited. 

The challenge is that pins don't seem to be as 'in' as they used to be... It means we normally have to spend quite a long time looking for a pin when we come to a new place... (sigh) 

The hat is becoming full of pins and rather heavy, in my opinion. 
But he proudly wears it when we are on holiday so I guess the collecting continues... 

'The Hat' and pins are now safely packed away till next year.

I guess there are worse souvenirs you can buy...