Happy New Year
29 December 2009
I came across this shop today (Screech owl) and ohhh there is nothing like fun stationary.
28 December 2009
26 December 2009
25 December 2009
The smalls are enjoying their gingerbread house (it is being nibbled on hourly with or without permission) even with its wonky upside down roof. Happy coffee sipping moments watching the wee ones play amid airplanes, trains and play dough ice cream . The Mr. is convinced he has swine flu and is still not better.
Hope you too are able to find some peace and happiness this holiday season.
22 December 2009
Finished the last stocking! Here it is and as promised cookie recipe number two.
(this was taken from my mothers much used old Swedish cookbook)
115 grams butter (8 Tbs)
60 grams sugar (1/3 cup)
1 egg yolk
100 grams ground hazelnuts (1/2 cup)
125 grams white plain flour (1 and 1/4 cup)
3 Tbs vanilla sugar (not common in the us so I never include this but sometimes ad a dash of vanillla essence).
Cream butter with sugar, add flour and nuts and then make a log with your hands, cut evenly into 1 inch sections and make each into a crescent.
Bake 10 min or until lightly brown at 350 F / 180 C
Once cookies are cool dip into the melted chocolate (heated in a double boiler above water)
or alternatively dust with powdered sugar.
*as soon as the children recovered from being sick, someone's husband got sick, is it me or are men sometimes a wee bit dramatic when they get sick? It's one thing letting them sleep and dealing with all else and another to make hot tea or a get a cup of cold water ..when they are sitting at the table right there two feet from the Brita. Trying to stay nice and understanding, but I seem to remember a few weeks ago being sick myself and having to carry on, looking after kids, making meals etc. sigh..in sickness and in health.
* * getting closer refers to not only the christmas holiday but after having a wee tif with the before mentioned sick person, we talked and seem to be a little closer again.
20 December 2009
The sledge stopped at last before Poppy's house. Her mother stood at the door and welcomed her."You're back at last".
And Poppy told her mother about all her adventures and the wonderful things that had happened.
Perhaps, one day , you too can ride on a sleigh to the Snow Kingdom.
from the book The story of the Snow Children by Sibylle von Olfers.
Nothing like getting lost in a good story at this time of year.
19 December 2009
Sufjan Steven's christmas albums have won me over this year. To taste a wee bit click here.
17 December 2009
Phew, busy week here! Must give a brief update, the bed did get remade just in time (and I did have that glass of wine that evening) and we had a really lovely weekend with our friends. Which is what brings me to today's ponderings, that being the joys found in friendships but this time from the perspective of a mom witnessing the bonds children create with eachother. This weekend seeing how smoothly my son fell back into synch with his old friend (keep in mind he is only 5 years old) was heart warming to witness. After not having seen eachother in almost two years it was unexpected the way the boys picked up just where they left off as if they had never been apart. The sign of a real friendship in my mind, for although both now live in different countries T in Malta and L in Italy they have enough in common that they seemed to have plenty to talk about. They met as 6 wk olds on a summer day when we lived in England 5 years ago, breastfeeding under a shady tree. You just never know in life how or when you will meet someone who can become so dear and how this starts even at a young age. From cards, races, legos and tent building, bear hunting to sleep over pillow fights and endless giggles they were like exhausted happy puppies by the end of the weekend when it was time to say good bye. T was sad and whistful in a way I have rarely seen him the following day, and insisted on drawing L. pictures and beginning on preparing to send a parcel to Italy, (he also has taken to drawing maps, (which now prominently include Italy and Malta). Isn't it a delight when you meet a kindred spirit and low and behold your children also find a connection!
Lastly some recipes as I have received quite a few emails
first is the dipped figs and the mulled wine but I did make it and it was very good. I did not include the lime but did include everything else.
Chocolate dipped figs
1/2 cup walnuts
step 1. Make one small 2 cm incision on side of figs and place in a bowl, cover with brandy and set aside for a few hours to overnight.
step 2. Stuff each fig with some walnut pieces (you can toast the walnuts first) and form each so sitting on a plate.
step 3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, dip each fig (holding fig by the tip so it's important you don't cut the top parts off).
once they are all dipped place in fridge and when hardened put in covered container.
and here is the mulled wine recipe I used (honestly a really nice one) I think the key thing is making the syrup and the fact that his recipe uses tangerine peel,star anis and bay leaf (who would have thought bay?!) so thank you Jamie Oliver.
13 December 2009
Christmas cookies, chocolate dipped brandy soaked figs and St. Lucia Rolls
Mulled wine with local oranges and christmas spices
Friends candles small sweet gifts
late night tea side talks
There are so many rich comforting moments to be had at this season
I remember in Norway there was a word kose sig (am completely misspelling it) but the idea behind the word was to 'cosy yourself' and that is just what I love about this time of year.
* (email me if you want any recipes for the above sweets or a very good recipe for Mulled wine).
11 December 2009
Almost everything ready, toys put away (every last teeny lego) , books in place, house swept, mopped and almost nearly all the mirrors and windows(particularly the big sliding doors in the kitchen that on a daily basis become the focus of indoor outdoor smushed faces) ...almost made it when ... 15 min before rushing off to the airport to pick up guests I notice as I grab the last sewing pile off the guest bed red crayon lines ( loooong ones) across the middle of the sky blue comforter cover. Then I flick back the covers to discover that my son, the five year old who was home sick the other day with a cough and who had a 'nap' in that same room decided under the covers was a good place to sharpen all of his coloured pencils... so not only are there streaks of red across the cover and little bits of coloured pencils all over the inside but I don't have time to wash and dry another queen size white sheet.No dryer here just the roof top. This is less than an hour after as I was putting wine glasses away I miscalculated the cupboard top and shattered one - which then sprinkled down all over my face and onto the girls having a picnic under the kitchen table.
One of those days.
All three kids home sick, and if one is not asking me to 'fix' the binoculars string(it comes loose every 3 min), the other is asking for more paper and maybe some sparkly glue and some chocolate and can we pleeeaaase open number 12 on the advent calendar the other is demanding that I find those two (teeny tiny) lego pieces of which he desperately need s to make a helicopter propeller ( I have absolutely no clue in which toy box I tossed them). Breath, keep calm
...off to the airport!
May you all be having a better Friday then I.
by the way destructo's ever so pleasant way of asking for help as regards the string is thus
until I do it ... which is about every 3 min.
(she does say thank you)
09 December 2009
Winter has been far nicer this year then last (it was not just that I was totally stressed out with papers, presentations and teaching practice) but it seemed to be cold, damp and rainy all the time (you so miss central heating when you are wearing a coat and scarf in a lecture). This year it's sunny bright and warm. So weekends have been filled with walks in the countryside picking flowers and contemplating camping.
We even had the romanticised big family meal out in the country last weekend (out door oven shown in picture below)with large metal pans of roasted pork or potatoes, an old uncle with home made peppered goats cheese and wine. There was also an one old auntie or two equipped with after the meal freshly roasted peanuts and walnuts (a Maltese tradition is eating nuts after dinner) and of course one or another of the grandmothers appears with chocolate gateau, and fresh brewed coffee with a touch of cloves. These are moments I think that I will hold in my memory when I think of living in Malta. The kids running wild in the tall grasses and olive groves catching chameleons (who by the way are so very cute .. they move so slowly and really do change colour). Learned something new, (local lore says) you must never put them on something red, I guess it kills them. I was unfortunately wearing red so couldn't let him walk on my arm.
Being the midwesterner girl that I am though I do long for a blizzard, recently one struck the midwest and I admit to having spent a little too long looking longingly at facebook updates of snow covered trees and buried picnic tables. Crazy I know. But it feels very strange to be heading into Christmas time and barely needing a sweater.
(these two photos were taken by Deke Rivers of Madison Wisconsin)
07 December 2009
04 December 2009
Guusje you are a star!!! I so completely love the hat and scarf you made me and yes, I will be using it!!!Thank you Thank you!! It's beautiful, soft cozy and I love the colours you chose!!!
Advent time, this is the middle picture of a three part advent calendar we brought back from Germany, really like this artist's style (Binette Schroeder).
Other happenings in these parts, that post graduate teaching course (madness) of last year is completed, graduation was last night. Yippy! Bit of champagne and donned the gown. Rain and christmas sewing projects in the wings now.
02 December 2009
01 December 2009
28 November 2009
Told you I was charmed, here are just a few more... admit I am a fan of the palat in Munich .. a lot of natural earth tones... did come to the conclusion that mustard yellow and this kind of orange seem to be the city's signature colours.
Chocolate and jewlery shop...not a bad combo.
Yes Schmuck is Jewlery, (it's not how my mother used it growing up).
The coolest paper store I have ever seen, I walked in and thought that just maybe I had died and gone to heaven... the walls were covered in the most exquisite papers, (three rooms worth, floor to ceiling)..
A seriously dangerous for a person such as myself.... I think I looked as if I was seeing god.... mouth open in a daze of disbelief.
Pictures can not do it justice. I did come out with a blank book to add recipes too.
See, we caught fall!!! Just at the end of her golden exit.
And back we are to Malta... weekend stroll in the countryside with friends.
26 November 2009
Childhood homeAm missing the smell of a cooking turkey and the zesty tang of cranberries and orange zest bubbling on the stovetop. Then there is the busy whirr of tidying the house, polishing the silver, finding the good linen and usually borrowing extra chairs from neighbours. Someone vacuuming, someone playing old Marvin gay albums and some combinations of the sisters beginning on the evenings sweets while drinking tea or wine and chittering like birds. Digging up grandma's stained hand written recipe for pumpkin muffins, or opening the heavy volume of Joy of cooking looking for just the right gravy tips. Brothers trudging off in the snow for the last minute forgotten items.
The temperature in Wisconsin would usually start to have that sharp cold edge and occasionally with the darkening afternoon light came the quiet entrance of snow. I come from a big family and during the Thanksgiving meal it always multiplies to include old family friends, new partners, new children and any visitors who happen to be in town that day.
Am thankful today for good friends close and far and family in all the spread out places you are, and for having a home, and being able to cook food for the ones i love (even if they complain). My heart goes out to those who are far away from loved ones and those that may not be living in safety and warmth.
* Here in Malta its 80 degrees, sunny and just like any other day. A work day, a school day a hang out the laundry and run to the shops for milk day but I am baking some pumpkin for a pie.
25 November 2009
Been away- sorry the silence.
First was knocked down with a cold and a two year old who decided it was high time to act the part in all the frustrating determined will-power ways she can.
Second was a birthday (this time my own) so no party favours to make.
And hey hey a trip- minus children!!
I love my children, every inch of their teeny grubby (did I say that?!) little bodies but a three day break with the Mr. was absolutely grand. First time we have been alone together in five years (for more than a night)- amazing that it's been so long!! The sheer delight of simply checking ones bags in at the air port and strolling (safely and calmly through duty free bottles of expensive alcohol (usually this is a continuation of high stress due to the three free ranging sets of hands running in usually three different directions ensues).
So even that first hour alone together waiting for our gate to be posted was like the honeymoon we never had! To meander our way through a new city, no time schedule, good beers to try, nice wholesome dark bread around every corner and so many nice cafes!! Best of all was to lie in bed, reading the paper or talking - UNINTERRUPTED...so am feeling revived and wanting to relocate to Germany.
rather fancy this as my house.....
A few pics of Munich- a truly delightful city!!
I even got a small taste of fall!!! The smell and crunch of some autumn leaves... love love loved it!
Hope you all have been well!
p.s. I may have to post a few more Germany pictures, was mighty charmed by our visit!
16 November 2009
After seeing how happy little D has been with her soft monkey toy (posted earlier about), I decided to make a soft toy for a friends daughter who just had her second birthday. Mims is 20 inches long and made of cotton. I made up the pattern and am now thinking I would like to try sewing a few more, and some little clothes.
14 November 2009
I believe that it is actually on November 11th (as noted over at Appletarte) but it is celebrated here today. One local Maltese tradition for St. Martin which is still carried on here is giving children small cloth bags full of nuts, dried fruit and fresh fruit. My husband's parents however remember walking through the small streets here as children carrying lanterns made of pumpkins and singing. Mostly they remember fondly the shadows of the lanterns cast on the walls.
Today I made a traditional Maltese St. Martines Cake (it is delicious) and has become a favourite for runner for the start of the Christmas holidays in our house.
It tastes lovely and makes the house smell of christmas, cinnamon, oranges and cloves... !
Here is the Recipe
Maltese St. Martins Cake250 grams dates chopped
200 ml boiling water
125 grams self raising flour
(if you live where there is no self raising flour then use one cup white flour and 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp baking powder).
200 grams toasted hazelnuts or walnuts
100 grams dried figs chopped
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
zest and juice of one whole orange
First let the chopped dates soak in the boiling water for at least one hour. then add in the other ingredients (setting aside a handful of the nuts to sprinkle on top), lightly stir and bake at 350 F or 180 C for 30 min.
Simple as that and so good next to a hot cup or tea or coffee.
*Note it is not a very sweet cake so if you like you can add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar but really the dried fruit and orange juice sweeten it just fine.
11 November 2009
ok some new music has gotten under my skin....feel the urge to share, these are the XX - listen (twice if you can.. the second time round and it starts to sound really quite good). Maybe it's me- Brighton- bit of Electrolane... who knows...let me know what you think!
also of note is this good looking childrens book- listed among the New York Times best illustrated new childrens books... like the bizarreness...amid normal every day...(perhaps this is also evidence of the fact that I have a house full of deep sea appreciators.)... oh sorry this book (TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA ) says it is meant for 12 year olds... darn. ..
but this (All The World) looks good too!
ok- some more melancholy type music- for your rainy day ears... Sharon Van Etten
...oh Brooklyn, home to so many gifted artists!!