Thursday, November 20, 2008

How much mess can one chocolate button make?

A surprisingly large amount I found today! It was kind of my fault really - I took Z to the Westfield Centre in Derby this afternoon (on the bus - aaargh) for some retail therapy and stopped for refreshment in a chocolate shop. The kind lady serving asked if Z could have a white chocolate button..I immediately thought 'no, think of the sugar!' but then decided that he may as well have a try of it.

Unfortunately I forgot what he tends to do with finger food at the moment, which is bang it on the table for a while to see if it makes an interesting sound, then mash it about a bit between his hands, before finally venturing to touch it to his lips, and occasionally something goes in.

So, imagine that with a large chocolate button and a little boy with very hot hands. Slippery, melty chocolate which got smeared all over the table, his trousers, his top, and consequently my clothes. It kept slipping from his grasp so more chocolate smeared whilst he grappled with his clothes trying to rescue the chocolate. Baby wipes were useless!!

The great wash

I remember a time not so long ago when Zachary's wash would be a very carefully executed routine - face, then ears and neck, hands, elbows and armpits and finally bottom. Then a hair wash (mainly because it helped us get rid of the cradle cap), and back onto the change mat for dressing.

Sadly, now that he can both roll and crawl, morning washes are much more the case of either me or L chasing a naked baby round the nursery, wafting a damp piece of cotton wool in his general bottom direction, hoping against hope that some contact is actually made. Thank goodness for evening baths!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dead Set

I've never been particularly good with horror films. I don't think of myself as particularly squeamish (I can watch CSI/Silent Witness etc with the best of them) but I've never really been into out and out horror. Many of my school friends grew up on a diet of Nightmare on Elm Street and Childs Play, but it really wasn't for me. It tends to unsettle me quite a bit. I think my imagination probably worked overtime a lot (Seven and Silence of the Lambs were nowhere near as bad as I thought they'd be), and certainly I get a morbid fascination with hearing about films like that but in general I can really only cope with horror if I can distance myself from it a bit - like if it's funny. And I mean both intentional funny like Shaun of the Dead, or so bad it's hilarious, like one fantastic film we watched called Frankenstein and Dracula (yes, it is that bad!).

So, Leigh recorded Charlie Brooker's Dead Set when it was on TV and finally two nights ago we ran out of other things to watch. Again, it wasn't as bad as I'd built it up to be (although we've only watched 1 episode so far) but I did have my coping mechanisms in place...L had stolen the laptop, so out came the cross stitch to hide behind! The lights had to be on and inane discussion ensued to take my mind off it...realising that of course zombies won't be able to work a wheelchair. Wondering what happens when zombies have zombified everyone and they run out of food - do they all die off? Not much of a plan for world domination. It then occurred to me that not everyone who got eaten was turned into a zombie - is it just random? Does the zombie parasite chose? Does it depend on how much they get eaten? So if not everyone gets turned, that leaves food for zombies?

L is no better than me really - his main concern was the speed at which the zombies move. Fast zombies - infinitely more scary than the slow doddery kind. A friend pointed this article out. That's my kind of distraction technique!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

'Lots' of fun

(with apologies for the poor punnage)

Since moving to Long Eaton we've been determined to try and go to a few auctions to see if we can pick up any bargains for the house - in particular looking for big mirrors, a bureau (you don't seem to be able to buy them new anymore) and any random crockery or glassware for the kitchen. And of course anything else which takes our fancy!

We finally got organised and found a local auction room which runs Victorian, Edwardian and General sales every fortnight and went along this week. There was a chance to view the items on Tuesday before the sale on Wednesday. With over 1100 lots, there was a huge amount to look through.

It was quite bizarre really and a strange mixture of items - pictures, furniture, crockery, glassware and much more...some period stuff and some modern (a huge TV and some nasty sofas for instance!). There was plenty we were interested in but knew it had to be pared down a bit and as the auctions are regular, there's a lot of stuff which will come round again. So unfortunately, the Gilbert gramophone and shield with swords and blunderbusses had to be dropped!!!

On the day, we were reasonably successful, although in the smaller items section found ourselves up against the clearly shop buyers - a couple of men bidding for all the Derby Crown pieces, one woman bidding against us for all the silver plated tea sets, and too many people bidding for the TG Green Cornish spice pots. Lovely, but too expensive in the end. Bidding was great - a bit of an adrenalin rush. I can see that going regularly might get a bit dangerous. It's all very well setting yourselves limits, but when the bidding's only going up by £2 at a time, it doesn't seem like much more until you realise you've just spent £20 over what you wanted to!! So what did we end up with?

Lovely blanket box. There were several up for sale, this one being the first which came up after we arrived and I bidded (bade?) successfully for it! £20. Nice.

Silver plated tea and coffee pots, sugar bowl, creamer and two other random silver plated items. Cost us £45 - a bit expensive really but we were determined to out bid the woman who beat us to the set we really wanted!!

£15 for masses of Moschendorf blue and white crockery. Leigh was umming and ahhing about whether to bid for it and was charmed into it by the auctioneer's patter of - oh look at that. You get lots of it - and we were the only bidders at £15. Not too bad.

Didn't manage to get a bureau (despite some great ones there) or mirrors. Shame. Means we'll just have to drag ourselves back there!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bread attempt 5

Best yet! Hurrah - actually looks and tastes like a decent loaf so we'll wait and see how it is tomorrow. Right amount of dough in right tin, right amount of yeast, not too hot when rising and didn't leave it too long in the fan oven (although it does look quite dark in the picture and could probably do with still less time). Let's hope the next loaf goes as well....

Also, we're off to an auction tomorrow - Victorian, Edwardian and General sale in Derby. Never been to one before despite having watched far too much Bargain Hunt, Cash in the Attic etc etc and am quite excited about it. We went to the rooms today for a viewing of the lots and to try and decide what (if anything) we're going to bid for. We were hoping to pick up a mirror or nice armchair, but there weren't many that we liked - still, plenty of glassware and ceramics to keep us occupied tomorrow!

Impossible Pie

Saw this recipe in a church magazine over the weekend and thought I'd give it a go -

Impossible Pie
Ingredients :
4 eggs
¼ cup margarine
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
2 cups milk
1 cup coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend everything together. Pour into 10“ dish and bake for 1 hour at Gas 4/180C/350F. The pie will sort itself out into three layers - sponge at the bottom, custard in the middle and coconut on top.

I was it is pre-oven - all liquidy and no substance

and here it is all done.

And yes it did work! Sugary, coconutty addictive layer on top, very eggy tasting set custard (like in an egg custard rather than what you would pour over apple crumble - not sure if it came out right or I overcooked it?) and weirdy sponge layer at the bottom. Impossible.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Played a game of Scattergories with my sister and brother-in-law this afternoon. Aside from the obvious willy and penis jokes (L's suggestion for a crime starting with 'P' - penis waving) I got a bit confused trying to think of footwear beginning with P as well.

I was thinking of those shoes, you know, the ones with really pointy toes - wrote down 'pinklewickers.' Looked at it, thought it didn't look right and tried 'picklewinkers.' No, still not right. Fortunately my brain kicked into gear just before the end of the round and I crossed the word out - winklepickers doesn't start with a P.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bread - attempt 4

I've now had a go at the Hovis recipe on the back of the yeast packet and this turned out to be my best bread so far! Again it didn't appear to rise sufficiently before baking, but it was the lightest so far and was still soft (ish) today when I baked at the beginning of the week - usually my bread is like a rock on the second day.

I followed the recipe closely, even measuring out the yeast - I usually just dump a whole packet in, figuring that packets come in the right sizes. And what have I learnt...there's more than 1 1/2 tspns of yeast in a packet. Why?? Surely most people would be following a standard 2 lb loaf recipe, in which case why have more yeast than that in a packet and what do I do with the rest??? I think too much yeast could have been a cause of some of the problems I've been having with earlier loaves.

This recipe also uses only one rising (Delia had a rise and a prove) and came out fine, so again why would you go to the bother of having a second rising? Does it make for better bread in the end?

And finally it turned out that I was using 2 x 2lb tins when L had quite convinced me that they were only 1 lb tins. So in fact I've only effectively been using half the dough I should have been in each tin. That may solve the 'doesn't appear to rise above the top of the tin' problem. I was sure they were 2 lb tins...I must never let L convince me of anything again!

No pictures I'm afraid - too much eaten by the time I got my act together! Next time...

Ingredients :
500g / 1lb 2oz strong white flour
25g / 1oz butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
300ml / 10 floz warm water
2tsp sugar (optional - to give added flavour and a thicker crust)

Mix together the flour, (sugar) and salt, rub in the butter then stir in the yeast.
Stir in the water and mix into a dough by hand.
Knead for 5 minutes in an electric mixer or turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for 10 minutes by hand
Shape the dough and place in a greased 2lb tin or on a baking tray. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
Uncover and bake in an oven preheated to 230C / 450F / Gas 8 for 30-35 minutes. The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool