Friday, December 31


a bit more of a conventional recipe today!

we've somehow managed to chomp our way through all of the biccies m bought in his moment of madness before christmas so i got to do some baking today :)

a work-friend gave me this recipe, i think it appeared in a magazine a few years ago to give folk easy baking ideas for charity bake-sales.

i love this recipe because you can add anything you like to it and the cookies (pretty much) always turn out delish. i usually make two different types at once so the pic shows chocolate chip for m and sultana and hazelnut for me :)

> basic ingredients
250g softened butter (i use the microwave for this!)
140g caster sugar (i prefer brown sugar for the taste and texture)
1 egg yolk (sometimes i add two, makes for a softer cookie)
2tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour

> method
heat the oven to 180 oC/fan 160 oC/gas mark 4.
mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
add the egg yolk and vanilla and briefly beat to combine.
sift in the flour and stir until the mixture is well combined, use your hands to bring the dough together if needed.
now add your extras! i'm a bit easy-oasy when it comes to measuring - just keep adding until it looks right :)
mix well, and if the mixture looks a little dry, add the second egg yolk or a tiny splash of milk.
lightly grease a baking tray.
depending on the consistency of your final mix, you can either roll the dough out and use a biscuit cutter to cut your shapes or, if your mix is a little softer, just scoop out a ball of the dough and pop onto the baking sheet, making sure to flatten it slightly.
pop them into the oven for between 10 to 15/20 mins, again this will depend on the consistency of your cookie dough. probably best to check after 10 mins and if a knife comes out clean, you're good to go.

these are heavenly when eaten still warm!

Thursday, December 30

stockholm tunnelbana

Wednesday, December 29

more snow ...

really ... ?

for us ...?

how kind!

but we really do have enough already thank you :)

Tuesday, December 28

bird cake!

as in a cake for the birds, not a cake made from birds!

well, it might not look too appetising to me but our feathered friends have been scoffing this as fast as i can make it. we've still got a load of snow and ice (will it ever go away?) so as well as our usual seed-feeder, i've started putting food out for the birds twice a day.

as i wasn't really baking this year (m went mad in the grocery store and bought enough sweets, choccies, crisps, snacks, cakes, pies to last a lifetime) i thought i would use up all of the dried fruit, the nuts, the suet that i wouldn't be using. i also found some pinhead oatmeal and some muesli i didn't really like very much and added some bird seed. it all got chopped up, then i melted some vegetable suet in the microwave, poured it over the dry mix and hey-presto! this gets chopped into smaller chunks and put out with some seed and chopped apples mixed in.

we've gone from a few birds visiting the feeder to a veritable flock who wait for us in the tree when we go out now. the binoculars now have a permanent home on the window-sill, as much to be on the look-out for next-door's cats as to enjoy watching the birds.

Saturday, December 25

merry christmas

i wish you the christmas you hope for :)

Friday, December 24

how to wrap a cat for christmas ...

slightly concerned this cat may have been sedated! either that or it's a very rare personality type, how on earth this person manages to wrap this cat, who seems quite unperturbed by the whole thing?!

Thursday, December 23

stockholm tunnelbana

Wednesday, December 22


and hilarious!

let me introduce you to mr b the gentleman rhymer ...

Tuesday, December 21

it's the shortest day!

happy winter solstice :)

the earth is turning toward longer, lighter and (hopefully) warmer days. a lovely thought for when we're sitting in front of the fire tonight eating some of the berries we picked this summer and then stuck in the freezer just for tonight.

Saturday, December 18

christmas ... ?

it hasn't really felt much like christmas for me so far, probably because i've been too busy!

so, to get myself in the christmas mood, tonight i shall eat satsumas and watch these two films ...

funny the things that become traditions isn't it?

since i can remember, satsumas have been part of the christmas tradition for our family and even though a lot has changed for our family recently, i only need to peel a satsuma and the fragrance takes me right back to those wonderful times.

and the choice of films ... i am actually quite a discerning film watcher (love b&w movies, choosing different genres for different moods, prefer european and in original language movies, have a soft spot for korean movie making) but again, it comes down to tradition for me.

i adored the muppets when i was wee and never really lost that as i grew up! i love the variety of shapes/sizes/colours/personalities of the muppets and also their lovely muppetty-ethos. apart from dirty, rotten scoundrels (whisper: and batman) this is about the only movie i can watch michael caine in.

and elf ... i used to watch this with my nan every year, and every time we watched it, it felt like christmas, and each time we saw it we laughed more and more, sometimes we would end up laughing at ourselves laughing so hard we were crying. lovely, happy times.

Friday, December 17

chocolate cake

this cake was so tasty it didn't even last long enough for a photo! best to eat this one when it's still warm from the oven ...

> cake
2 eggs
3tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup self raising flour
2tbsp sunflower oil

> sauce
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup hot water

put the oven on to about 180 oC.
lightly oil your cake tin (about 8" will do), i use a loaf tin.
sprinkle in the ingredients for the sauce, don't worry about sieving or mixing - just bung it all in the tin.
put all of the ingredients for the cake into a mixing bowl and mix it all up until you get a thick, gloopy batter.
pour a cup of hot water into the cake tin, on top of the dry sauce ingredients.
stir it gently.
now pour the cake batter in (no more stirring or poking about, that's really all there is to it!)
pop it into the oven for about twenty minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the cake.
if you put the cake tin onto a baking tray before putting it into the oven, it'll help catch any sauce that runs out over the top of the tin while it's cooking (learnt that one the hard way!).

i can't remember where i printed off the original recipe from but part of the instructions say that it is ready when the sauce looks gloopy and slightly volcanic which is a perfect description!

i sometimes add a different flavour by grating in some green & black's maya gold or you could add a few drops of flavouring or something like rose water.

i usually up-end the loaf tin onto a plate so that the lovely, gooey sauce runs all over the cake, slice it up, bung on some cream/ice cream and serve :)

Thursday, December 16

stockholm tunnelbana

Sunday, December 12

international day of felt

ok, so, better late than never right ... ?

i'm a 'little' behind in posting these but hopefully it'll be a welcome relief from all of the snowy scenes i've been putting up recently!

in case you haven't come across IDF before, here's a handy link that'll tell you all about it, so you can get involved for 1st october, next year: felt united

i really love this coming together of feltmakers from around the world and also the creativity that it inspires. the first year i took part, i met angela who was organising a felt trail in ilkley and the felt mobile i made was something i wouldn't normally have attempted and became one of my favourite pieces.

this year i wanted to try something new so one of the things i made, i hung in the local forest, right on the edge of a walking path so that people who wouldn't normally encounter felt would have the chance to see something a little different. i was a bit nervous about it, what if someone saw me putting it up and told me off?! what if people didn't like it and ripped it down?! i was really relieved and quite surprised when i went back to take it down two weeks later to find it, not only still in place, but it looked like a few of the pieces had become detached and folk had carefully put them back in place :) i used velcro at one end of each strip to wrap it around the branch so as not to damage the tree, but it possibly wasn't strong enough for the perthshire weather!

anyway, enough blethering, here's the pics ...

laying out ... the blue
... the yellow
... the green
these interlocking foam tiles have been great - saves my feet when standing and my knees when kneeling (didn't have a big enough table for this size of felt!) but one word of caution - if they get a little wet they get exceptionally slippy against a laminate floor so that any attempt to stand on them results in lots of arm flailing, squealing, sploshing about of water and results in a fit of giggles when you realise how funny you must have looked as you did the 'must retain my balance' dance! not dignified :)

after much rubbing comes much rolling
ready for cutting
all cut and ready to be shaped and washed
i also made some felt balls to hang in our new gage tree
and some hollow ones that i cut to reveal different layers
but this was my favourite piece
roll on next year, when the colour theme is red, purple and blue!

Saturday, December 11

beetroot chutney

a work friend kindly gave me this recipe when i mentioned to her that we were growing our own beetroot this year. it really is an unbelievably simple recipe but the end result is divine - i can totally recommend a cheese and beetroot chutney sandwich :)

3lbs fresh beetroot
1.5lbs cooking apples
2lbs onions
1lb sugar
1tsp salt
1 pint regular malt vinegar
1tbs lemon juice
0.5tsp ground ginger

i did kind of tweak the quantities as i was making it, using slightly less suger and fresh rather than ground ginger too, but you can change according to your own tastes.method
anyways, you chop up all the ingredients (as fine or as chunky as you prefer) and put them in a big pan.
bring to the boil.
simmer until the mixture has reduced and become a bit thicker.
while the chutney is cooking, you can be sterilising your jars.
once the apple and beetroot has softened and the mixture is nice and gloopy, put it in jars and seal.

the amounts given above are enough to fill about twelve jars. also, i think i only waited about a week after putting in jars to have my first taste and it was delish.but, be warned, it can have a rather surprising (or it was for me anyway) effect that will be noticed the next time you, ahem, go to powder your nose!!!

Friday, December 10

more snow, some ice, bit of a thaw

guess how long it took us to dig the car out .. ? only to wake up to a blizzard the following day!must admit though, that i have quite liked the change of pace that the 'snow chaos' has caused.

we've been really lucky, i know, and it must have been awful for the folk who haven't been able to get out and about or who have been stuck in their cars overnight.

but i've really enjoyed being in the house with the stove on, pottering around and doing those wee jobs i never seem to have the time to do. we've been taking lots of really long walks, enjoying the scenery and playing in the snow. a trip to the grocery store meant walking with huge rucksacks on our backs and only buying what we could carry, you pretty much stick to your shopping list when you know that you've got to load it all onto your back for the trip home! i've also been doing loads of baking (pics and recipes to follow). we've been feeding and enjoying watching the antics of the birds who have been very regular visitors. we switched the tv off and listened to the radio, and some old vinyl (yes, vinyl!). plus, i discovered that i could actually walk to the day job, whilst doing a bit of bird watching along the way. much more relaxed way of life with the added bonus of some exercise thrown in too! i'm definitely going to try to use the car less and less from now on. a couple of years ago i did acutally have a whole summer without a car and cycled to work, but then winter came and i was persuaded we did really 'need' a car and then got lazy again!

we did have more and more snow during last week and everything was transformed into something really quite magical
even the tree decorations i made as part of the international day of felt

then we had two whole days without snow! it started to thaw a bit during the day, then refreeze at night, making for lots of lovely to look at, but dangerous to stand underneath, icicles

well, it looks like we may have a bit of a thaw on, i've seen the tarmac on the road for the first time in two weeks! off to walk into town now :)

Thursday, December 2


let me introduce you to a little known sport, or as it’s referred to more accurately by aficionados: art-form, called snow jumping.

there is one very important pre-requisite for this activity: you need a shed-load of snow to be dumped on your location daily for about four days in a row, with freezing temperatures at night to maintain consistency and depth.

preparation is key: you want to wrap up warm with plenty of waterproof clothing on top. make sure that there are no tiny gaps between gloves and sleeves, scarf and neck etc. in fact, tucking your vest into your thermals is also a good idea (but not the sexiest style you will ever carry off) to prevent any ingress by the tiniest amount of the cold stuff, which will melt as soon as it reaches any of the cosy parts of your body and turn to freezing water which will then run down your neck, leg, arm etc. not good.

to allow you to take part at home, here is a quick guide. bear in mind that perfecting this technique takes many, many hours of practice so don’t be too disheartened by your first, stumbling attempts.

step 1. find a stretch of particularly deep, untouched, lovely white stuff.
step 2. run as fast as your many layers of clothing will allow.
step 3. launch yourself from the ground by pushing off with one foot.
step 4. bearing in mind that points are awarded for style and panache as well as distance travelled and landing, turn/twist/spin/kick/flail/somersault even, as many times as is possible.
step 5. the landing, ah the landing, my favourite part. if you have nailed your take-off perfectly, then landing pretty much takes care of itself.

to assist you: if you’re doing it right, the end result should look something like this:happy snow-jumping everyone!

Wednesday, December 1

what a difference a week makes

this is what last week looked like ... we had gone to a local hide to do a bit of winter birdwatching but the scenery was so lovely we spent a lot of time admiring that too!

and this is what we have now ...although, we actually have a little more snow now! this pic was taken a couple of days ago and it pretty much hasn't stopped snowing since.

here's some more snowy pics from our walk ...

the trees still haven't finished their autumnal display

only one thing for it ... make snow angels!hope everyone is safe and warm, with plenty of supplies.