Saturday, 29 October 2011

recently sewn / baby boy trousers

On Thursday I went to my oldest friend's baby shower. In just a few months time, my lovely lifelong friend Katy will be having her first baby. Oh the excitement!

So, I made a couple of reversible pairs of trousers for her babe's first few months.





This was the first time I have made these trousers, and I would happily make them again, and again. The end result is so pleasing and there is no end of fun to be had in choosing not one but two different fabrics for one pair of trousers.

Friday, 28 October 2011

hello from London

Hello friends,

In the time that I have been absent from this little space, I have driven to London by myself (for the first time) and survived, cruised on the London buses, visited the Tate Modern, admired stunning double rainbows (that were seen all across the country - I find this just incredible), driven to Herne Bay, visited my parents, Grandparent, and precious friend who's having a baby, taken photos in this orchard, adopted my sister's hamster, and driven back to London with said hamster. 

Phew.

If you managed to get through that whole sentence, well done. You deserve a treat for your endurance. Now, for a little photo session.

 {porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate - each one made by hand}

 (view of St Paul's Cathedral from the Tate}
 {view of rainbow from the Southbank}

{ornate lamp post, alongside the Thames}

See you again soon for more half term tales,

Love Hannah

p.s when I logged into blogger to create this post, the number '1000' was there to greet me, letting me know how many times my blog has been visited since I made the switch in September from runningforgrace. there's something a little bit lovely about knowing that people come here regularly, whoever you are, wherever you may be, thankyou for taking the time to visit.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

pumpkin soup


If you have spent much time at all visiting this little blog of mine, you know that I love to bake. A lot. But when it comes to cooking, I am very happy to let John have all the glory. Every night he makes us delicious meals. When Tim & Becky were staying with us at the weekend, John effortlessly made gluten free tagliatelle from scratch, and was not put off by my doubting voice, pointing out our lack of a pasta rolling machine. 

John will often ask me what we should have for dinner, and for the most part, I am clueless. (I put this down to a good number of years cooking three different meals a day, and always trying to make different things. My creative juices got a little drained.) But last night when John asked, I knew exactly what I wanted. Pumpkin soup. Perfectly Autumnal in colour and flavour. I wondered aloud if this would be sufficient to fill all 6 ' 6" of John, and he was quite happy to go with my idea.

So I wanted to share it with you today in the form of a recipe. I texted John to ask him what he'd put into the soup so I could share it on my blog and this is what he said:

'Um...oil, butter, onions, potato, pumpkin, paprika, carrot, chicken stock, coconut milk, chorizo, salt, pepper, 1.5 chilli's. Xx.'


If you would like to try making this soup (I would highly recommend it), I would translate this as follows:
a good slosh of oil
a knob of butter
2 onions
3 large potatoes
600g pumpkin (weight before it's peeled & de-seeded)
a handful of carrots (maybe 4?)
1 litre or so of stock
1 can (400ml) coconut milk
handful of chorizo, finely diced
salt & pepper to taste
0.5 - 1.5 chillis depending on your heat tolerance. Ours is pretty high, so maybe go for less rather than more...  

This made an enormous batch of soup - probably enough to feed ten people if not more.

1. Heat the oil and butter (butter adds good flavour, but you need oil too so the butter doesn't burn)
2. Add chopped onions and saute
3. Add everything else, chopped, except for the coconut milk, and leave to simmer until veggies are tender
4. Blitz veggies in a blender (or mash with a potato masher if you don't have a blender)
5. Return veggies in all of their lovely orangeness to pan, stir in coconut milk and heat gently.
6. Serve with warm rolls & don't forget the kisses.


It's half term week, which means a lovely break from school for me, and an opportunity for John to take time off work. We're heading to London and Herne Bay for the rest of the week for football fun (John), song writing fun (John), a baby shower (Hannah), family fun (John & Hannah) and lots of sewing (Hannah).

I am hoping to pop in to this little space for updates of our London & Herne Bay adventures. Right, now it's time for me to brave driving across London by myself for the first time ever. I am a little bit scared. Hopefully I'll arrive in one piece with my heart beating at a regular rhythm. I'm trusting our sat nav lady will help me out a lot.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Cheddar Gorge


This weekend our lovely friends Tim & Becky came over from London to visit us. We wanted to take advantage of the beautiful Autumn sunshine and go somewhere pretty. We deliberated over Westonbirt Arboretum and Cheddar Gorge. Cheddar won. After all, it is the home of Cheddar Cheese, so why on earth wouldn't we want to go there?!


While I was the main advocate for Westonbirt, I was also very happy to go to Cheddar as I have not been before. The views of the Gorge on the website looked promising, so off we set. I really do appreciate that although we live in the city we are so close to so many beautiful places - you only have to drive a short distance to find your self in the middle of the south west countryside - and I love that.


We were seriously hungry by the time we arrived, so ate at the first place we could find in Cheddar that would serve us warm food. As we were munching away, John spotted two of his colleagues out in the garden, who had cycled all the way to Cheddar - far more noble than us hopping in the car!



With our tummies fully satisifed, we meandered through the village. I was amazed at the number of traditional sweet shops there seemed to be for such a small (yet clearly touristy) place. Our attempt at climbing the Gorge were pretty pathetic, but we still enjoyed the beauty of it all, and saw a couple of mountain goats grazing above us.


They were our inspiration while we tried to climb up the gorge in inappropriate footwear - we just kept thinking of how the goats must do it and tried to channel their hill walking skills.




And of course, we had to try & take some group photos while carefully precariously balancing my camera on some small rocks. The prospect of losing my camera down the gorge actually brought tears to my eyes! Thankfully it survived.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

food.

This year, we kept my birthday celebrations simple (yet wonderfully fun), with cream tea & friends on Sunday, then a meal out on the evening of my birthday. 

There's a wonderful little cafe, tucked away in Clifton village, called The Primrose Cafe. By day, they serve perfect coffee, refreshing juices & amazing cakes; by night, they turn into a tiny little restaurant, lit by candle light with a ceiling of painted stars overhead. This was where I wanted to spend the evening. John kindly obliged, even though he had already booked a meal for us for Wednesday evening.

We enjoyed the culinary delights of The Primrose Cafe, including a complimentary hunk of bread, and a tiny cup of creamy parsnip soup.


On Wednesday, we went to Juniper. We have been anticipating this evening for months. Sometime earlier this year, we babysat for our friends while they went and enjoyed a sumptuous 8 course taster meal at Juniper. They came home & raved about how wonderful it was. We were sad that we had missed out on the deal they had found, then it just so happened that a week or so later, good old Groupon offered the very same, very reasonably priced deal. So we snapped it up, then have had the voucher sat around, waiting for the perfect moment to be used. Thankfully, John had the brilliance to think of my birthday as being the perfect time.


The food was just so full of flavour - my mouth is watering just remembering how good it tasted.

 {one happy eater}
{two happy eaters}

 {the dessert platter}

You see that little cup that looks like coffee? It was actually a hazelnut mousse. The platter was to share, and on the whole, we did well at eating half of each portion. Except for that mousse. I let John have a few mouthfuls, then I devoured it. Sorry John!

So, our tastebuds have had much excitement this week. In some ways, I was quite grateful for the simple bowl of pasta we ate for dinner this evening. Eight courses is a lot of food!

(Apologies for the poor photo quality - it was very romatically lit in Juniper (read 'dark') and I had my little point & shoot ' hence rather grainy photos...)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

twenty seven.

Today, I turn 27. 

I baked 48 red velvet cupcakes

I made a birthday playlist and listened to it nice & loud as I drove to school
 I loved the skies streaked in all of their glory.

 I delighted in the moon that was still shining at 7.40am when I arrived at school, and was still there, beaming away at 10am. The children loved it too. 

I prayed for patience a significant number of times during school
 I ate a birthday cupcake for my lunch 

I walked in the Autumn sunshine
I drank some birthday coffee & ate some birthday fudge treats

I received a happy birthday message from MapmyRun
I smiled with joy as I read a birthday letter from my Ma&Pa 
and now, I will take an afternoon nap, because it's my birthday, and I can.

Monday, 17 October 2011

river swimming.

What a wonderful weekend we have had. On Saturday we celebrated a friend's birthday by spending the afternoon in an idyllic setting, tucked away in the countryside of Somerset.

The birthday girl had read about the river in Tellisford in her wild river swimming book, and thought it would be the perfect plan to go for a birthday swim.

While we were sat stuck in a hot car in heavy traffic on our journey there, I tried to convince myself that the water might just be heating up under the heat of the sun. Who was I kidding - it's October in England - there was no way the water would be warm!
I dabbled my toes in the water at this spot to test the temperature. I might as well have been putting my toes on ice, it felt that cold! But hey, we were here to go in the river, so that is what I did...well I got halfway to being in. By the time I was waist deep in water and the shooting pin-like feeling of the icy waters had turned to numbness, I didn't fancy putting my shoulders under - the sun was shining on them - and it would have been rude to choose water over sun. John was far more hardy than me, and actually swam around & stayed in twice as long as me.
I took a wander around the surrounding fields and stood happily under this oak tree, listening to the acorns falling down around me. 

I find it so refreshing to escape from the city to the country, away from the sounds of cars & surrounded by trees and lush green grass. Can you spot John launching the frisbee?




As we drove home, we saw this happy sight of a tractor, ploughing the fields. The perfect image to be imprinted in our thoughts as we drove back to the city.

Pop by later today to hear about our Sunday fun...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

lemon cloud cookies


For some reason, lemons held a great appeal for me last week. Their glossy lemon skins shone out to me from the shelves at the greengrocers, so I bought four. 

When it came to my weekly baking session for school, it seemed only right to bake something lemony. Something with a little bit of spark for a Friday afternoon, but light enough not to be too filling. 

I had originally planned on making mini lemon meringues, but when I came to searching for the recipe on Joy the Baker's blog, I found myself typing lemon cloud cookies. So that is what I made.

Unfortunately they didn't turn out quite as light as air as I had hoped, and seemed to be lacking in the zing I was hoping for. So I whipped up a batch of lemon curd to accompany the cookies, which helped to add a bit more flavour. Just thinking about the leftover lemon curd sat in my fridge makes my mouth water. Yum.

Find the original recipe here. If I were to make these again, I would add more zest and perhaps a little milk to make the mixture less dense. After a little trial and error, I ended up piping the mixture to create a neater finish.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

a little list



inspired by: this video
enjoying: the scents of Autumn
running: at dusk
shovelling: soil to take to school {does anyone else get to do this for a job?!}
baking: dough for making hedgehog bread at school tomorrow
reading: 'a woman's walk with God' by Elizabeth George
eating: homemade pizza
dreaming about: this bread

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

the kindness of neighbours


I arrived home from school today feeling a little frazzled & windswept. Our neighbours who live opposite us were out in their front garden, tending to their flowers. 

We exchanged greetings, then as I was struggling through the door with my bag that weighs a tonne (no joke), they handed me a beautiful flower. I think the wind might have swept it off its tall stem, but regardless, I appreciated this simple act of kindness. Sady, we have no flowers in our front garden, so I could not offer anything in return. Although, on Saturday they took a cutting of our rose, so I hope that the small cutting bears them many years of flowers.

recently baked.


I love to bake. Those of you who know me or stop by here regularly probably know this by now. When I got my part-time teaching post that I started in September, I was honestly excited that I would still have plenty of time to bake. 

On the first day back to school, I found a mountain of apples in the staffroom that had grown on our school apple tree and needed using. So it only seemed right that when I used them to bake a cake, the staff at school should be the recipients. The next week, I felt like baking cookies. I knew the recipe yielded approximately 50 cookies, so it made sense to take them to school for the staff to enjoy, rather than keeping them at home for John & I to guzzle our way through. Last week, as I flicked through my new copy of the Delicious food magazine, I saw a recipe for caramel / millionaire shortbread, and decided that it would be the perfect Friday treat for my colleagues. And so it seems that I have started a weekly tradition, and now, staff are expecting that I will bring in some kind of baked goods each week.

Perhaps the only problem with this tradition is that while people are thanking me now, they may well change their tune when their trousers start getting a little bit snug...


Sure, it is not a perfect cross-section, and the ratio of shortbread to chocolate is off (not enough chocolate), but no one complained. I love making people smile with cake.

Monday, 10 October 2011

recently sewn

At the start of the Summer, our friend Becky commissioned me to make a dress & bib set for a friend who had recently had a baby. I couldn't have been happier to oblige. Becky gave me full permission to choose a fabric & I knew straight awat the one that I would use. I had had my eye on it every time I visited Poppy Patchwork, my local fabric shop. 



I picked up a metre of the pretty fabric with rows of birds peep, peep, peeping, and merrily stitched the dress & bib set, based on a pattern from one of Anna Maria Horner's books that I have adapted.


I hope the baby & her parents like the fabric as much as I do!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

from one weekend to another

This time last weekend I took a stroll in the gloruious sunshine that was totally out of character for this time of year, to take a photo of this house of great character, while John caught up on sleep post-China trip. 



As I write this, I have one of our quilts (made by John's Mum) over my legs & toes, because they were starting to go numb from the cold. What a contrast, but that's what seasons are about. Change & contrast, from warmth & light to coolness & darkness. 

Having woken up at 7am this morning, I got up and read my new book for two hours before going back to bed for an uncharacteristic lie-in. (Does it count as a lie in if you've already got up, eaten breakfast & finished a book, or is it just an early morning nap?) When I woke up for the second time this morning, I heard the sound of my kenwood chef whirring. John was making pancakes. What a lovely treat for a Saturday morning brunch.




Perfectly thin, perfectly cooked, perfectly dressed with demerera sugar & freshly squeezed lemon juice. Yum.