Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Day 78: Happy Halloween!

#100HappyDays Day 78: I saw this lady with this amazing Cheshire Cat pumpkin, you can't quite see but there are ears carved in on the top. It made me so happy! I expect to see some amazing costumes later on too.

It has been so sunny today - it's been t-shirt weather! I'm not complaining, I hope I get to sit out in the sun a bit tomorrow too.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Happy Day 77: In Bloom

#100HappyDays Day 77: The Christmas cactus has suddenly flowered over the last few days. We thought we might have killed it, but it definitely looks alive now.

In other news, I was at work a full day today - my ankle is a bit twingey and is still a little swollen but I've walked around on it all day so I think that's healing up fine. I also had my first BSL exam - my mock last week went quite well but I'm pretty nervous about today. We get our results back next week, I hope I passed!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Happy Day 76: Quiche!

#100HappyDays Day 76: Middle B and I finally got round to making quiche! Hooray!


Pastry: 2:1 ratio of flour to fat. We used 200g plain flour and 100g cold unsalted butter.

- Mix the cold butter and the flour together til it resembles bread crumbs. We did this in a mixer, I must confess, it is so much quicker!
- Then add a tablespoon of water and start bringing the pastry together so that it starts to bind. Carry on adding a bit of water at a time until the dough is a coherent ball rather than flaky crumbs. I think I ended up adding about 3 tablespoons of water. You can also use an egg to bind instead if you'd rather.
- If you have the time you can chill the dough in the fridge for 30 mins. This is optional - we were just too hungry to bother.
- Sprinkle some flour on a work surface and roll out your pastry to fit your quiche tin. Remember to roll out enough to go up the sides.
- Butter your quiche tin, then pick up your pasty and lay it into the tin. Push it into the tin and up and sides, tucking the dough into the corners. Make sure you plug up any holes or thin patches with any left over scraps of pastry.
- Blind bake it.  If you have baking beans, put them in the pan and then put it in the oven for 15 mins on 180 degrees C. We don't, so we cut out some parchment paper to fit the bottom of the tin and put that into the tin with a smaller tin inside to keep everything weighted down and baked that for 10 mins then took out the tin and the paper and baked the pastry for a further 5 mins.

Filling: 300ml milk or cream or a mix of the two, 3 eggs and any vegetables you want. We used some sweetcorn, some mushrooms, red onion and goats cheese. We added in some herbs to the egg mixture. If you want it not to be so runny, it's best to cook the mushrooms a little first to get the moisture out, but they were fine as they were.
- Layer your filling into the pastry.
- Measure out milk / cream in a measuring jug to 300ml, add in 3 eggs and mix. If you're using any herbs you can add them in here too.
- Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients. Be careful not to put too much in, go up to the top of the pastry and not over.

-  Bake at 180 for about 20 mins. Check after 15 mins, baking time will depend on how runny your mixture is - if you've used just milk it will take longer than if you have cream in there. Make sure the filling is firm, so bake until golden and not wobbly.
- Let it sit for a few minutes to settle. Nearly impossible when you're hungry! Good to let it cool down a bit before eating though.

And there you go!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Happy Day 75: Getting Comfy

#100HappyDays Day 75: I happened to have no work today and I'm still sprained so I spent the day with my foot elevated, a bottle of arnica and Pride & Prejudice. Perfect relaxation!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Happy Day 74: Hunkering Down

#100HappyDays Day 74: I have had a bit of a cold the last few days, nothing terrible, and also the first cold I've had in quite a while, and I've been just getting over that and I made plans to go round to a friends for dinner... but on the way home I twisted my ankle. Boooo! So I've got it elevated with some frozen veg wrapped in a towel on it, Middle B gave me a tubigrip and I think I'm going to hunker down in bed for the evening and snuggle up with tea and a book. Nice.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Happy Day 73: Chestnut Icecream

#100HappyDays Day 73: I am totally stuffed from Sunday Dinner! Em made a chicken bhuna with a side of mushroom and potato curry and peas and tomato curry. I made fruit salad with chestnut ice cream, taken from a recipe in How to Be a Domestic Goddess. We watched the Strictly Come Dancing dance off and then followed up with Wonders of the Monsoon with Colin Salmon. Perfect Sunday night relaxing.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Happy Day 72: Christmas Cake

#100HappyDays Day 72: I helped Middle B make Christmas Cake today. I know it's a bit early to be thinking about all that, but this is the kind of cake that needs 'feeding' with brandy, so best get started early. I haven't baked in a while so it was fun.

We used the Christmas Cake recipe from Delia Smith - you can't beat a bit of Delia!

We also made mince and bottled it so that we can make mince pies closer to Christmas. We used Mary Berry's Mincemeat recipe though we added in some apricots and some walnuts as well.

  • 175g currants
  • 175g raisins
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g dried cranberries
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 125g butter, cut into cubes
  • 50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 200ml brandy, rum or sherry
Makes 4 x 370g jars
  1. Measure all of the ingredients except the alcohol into a large pan. Heat gently, allowing the butter to melt, then simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool completely then stir in the brandy, rum or sherry.
  3. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jam jars, seal tightly, label and store in a cool place.
 Make the mincemeat up to six months ahead and store in a cool place. It’s not necessary to freeze mincemeat as it stores so well.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Happy Day 70: Mock Exam

#100HappyDays Day 70: We had our mock test for our first sign language exam today - it was 5 minutes of conversation with our assessor introducing ourselves, our names, the weather, transport and directions to the cafe. I was a bit nervous before hand but our teacher is lovely and made me feel comfortable. I passed! Here's hoping the real test next week goes as well...

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Lightness of Being

It's been a long time that I've been holding a little rock of emotion in my heart, all balled up and heavy. I went to my grandma's burial, it was a simple small thing, we were there just over two days and then came back to normality. I started a new term at work. Things chugged along. It gave other people closure, while I continued to have sleepless nights.

I went for acupuncture and my lady said that the emotions are there but I haven't quite connected with them, but I will, and when I do I will sleep properly again. I don't know what I thought would happen - that I would tear my hair out? that I would weep with wild abandon? that I would well up every time I think of her? I have a painting on my wall of my grandma now, and some pictures from her house. In the beginning they made me a little sad, but one day I had a wee cry and I felt a bit better. It felt so feeble compared with the way that grieving takes place in books and plays and TV, but the way we react - the way I react - is never how people think you ought, and books and plays and TV they go for the dramatic, and real life isn't like that sometimes.

Grieving is a funny emotion - of all the emotions I've ever felt, it is the one that is most composite, most strange, with a liquid form, and a strange distortion of time. I have been questioning what I'm grieving over, not just the loss of someone's physical presence in the world, but what she meant, our shared history, the ways she contributed to my life, and what lives on from that. Some people say 'She's not gone, she's still with you' but funnily I don't find that to be entirely true, nor entirely comforting. She is not here. But she is not gone completely either.

I went to her burial and I wore a black dress. I am not comfortable in black dresses, but this one had small bits of orangey red, so it felt alright. There were four of us there, we will hold a memorial in December, but this was small and quick and I hadn't even thought to bring flowers. What do you do at a burial? None of us really knew. The rest of the day I sat with other people and listened to them talk, and my mum was concerned and kept asking if I was alright. I was alright. I was just quiet. I was just sitting. I was just being, how I was. And I was alright with that. Because there is still some discomfort, I didn't have a grand epiphany, and I didn't get closure.

And when I came back to normality, I still couldn't sleep. I had some days where things felt stuck somehow, where I couldn't move. And Middle B knew that things were't quite right. And I had a meditation where I saw her as she used to be - she would smile this sweet smile, and wrinkle her nose at me, and call me sweet names in German. I saw her when she was still mobile and alive, when we went places and drank coffee together and I told her nonsense stories that children do and she was happy, where I used to tread on her heels sometimes because my body was growing into itself and my stride was much bigger than I realised, where I would tell her that I painted and that made her happy. I have not slept, I have not painted, I have not made any clothes. I have not wanted to somehow, not strongly or obstinately but it just didn't feel right, what would I paint? what would I produce? from these feelings?

I don't know what I thought would happen to these feelings, maybe a big bang? I'd have a big cry and somehow through all the tears and the wailing I would be healed? Or suddenly I would have some vision, I would change and I would know that she has left me for somewhere much happier? I don't know. But I think that things are getting lighter slowly, things are shifting around. Piece by piece drifting away at its own pace. My heart is still a little heavy, but I think that at some point soon I'll be alright. I might even have another wee cry. I think I'll be alright with that.

Happy Day 69: Homeward Bound

#100HappyDays Day 69: I'm starting to get a little bit sick so I popped into Boots on the way to work and stocked up on Vitamin C and Olbas Oil and Fisherman's Friend. I enjoyed work today but by the end I was pretty tired. When I get to this point down the hill, I know that I am not far from home - and I was happy to get home and rest up and have dinner with Middle B. Cosy.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Happy Day 68: Scarf Styling

#100HappyDays Day 68: This is one of our teachers at swing jive - even when she looks casual, she looks amazing! I love the way she had her scarf today. She assures me that she doesn't dress vintage every day just for teaching, but I bet she's still gorgeous then too.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Happy Day 67: Happy Hair

#100HappyDays Day 67: This lady was sat across from me in the library - she has such amazing hair! She kept twiddling it and it would bounce right back into shape. Beautiful!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Happy Day 66: Sunny Silliness

#100HappyDays Day 66: I watched this mum and her son chasing each other down the road while trying to avoid the cracks, giggling all the while.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Happy Day 65: Bubbles

#100HappyDays Day 65: This man was making giant bubbles in town today, he was surrounded by delighted little girls who were running around in the sunshine trying to catch them.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Happy Day 64: Honesty and Generosity

I was in this cafe today and I overheard a lady having a conversation with the cashier: she had a sandwich yesterday but she only had her card and she'd come back in today to give the money she owed. The cashier looked at her blankly and said she didn't remember that from yesterday so she should keep her money. The lady pushed a tenner across the counter and told her she owed them money. Then some other cashiers came in and said they'd already cashed up yesterday and she should really keep her money. 'We won't take it, go and buy something nice with it' they said. It was a really sweet exchange on both sides - the lady was really honest and the cashiers were really kind.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Happy Day 63: Autumn Showers

#100HappyDays Day 63: As much as I enjoyed my adventures with Bessie the last two days, I was really happy to have the boiler back up and working and be able to have a proper shower this morning!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Happy Day 62: Mooooo!

#100HappyDays Day 62: Our electrics went out yesterday and they still aren't fixed. Boooo! It did give me a chance to use this fella though:

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Monday, 13 October 2014

Happy Day 60: Chalk board

#100HappyDays Day 60: We have a wall at the end of our kitchen by the back door that is chalk board and we all leave messages for each other. I love our kitchen!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Happy Day 59: Sunday Dinner

#100HappyDays Day 59: Every Sunday one of the house cooks dinner for everyone else, this week it was Middle B's turn. We're properly into autumn now: she made a Cider and Honey Roasted Parsnip Soup (from the Covent Garden Soup Co Cookbook) with croutons to start, then Sausage Casserole with mash and steamed carrots, and then finished off with Gingerbread and cream. It was so good that none of us spoke during the first course. I managed to roll myself up to bed, but I don't envy Mr. Spoon who has to some how drag himself home.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Happy Day 58: Kitchen Dancing

#100HappyDays Day 58: It's Middle B's turn to cook Sunday Dinner tomorrow so we got a headstart on it all today. We put the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack on and a bit of Pearl Jam and had a good old dance around the kitchen in our pinnies while we were cooking. Because who wouldn't?!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Happy Day 57: A Case of the Giggles

#100HappyDays Day 57: I was in the café getting some work done today and a chap across the room had the loudest, funniest laugh I've heard for ages. I have no idea what they were talking about, but it must have been hilarious. Just his laugh alone made me chuckle.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Happy Day 56: Baby It's Cold Outside

#100HappyDays Day 56: I used to walk past the window of a soft furnishing shop and admire this cushion. I went in a while back and enquired about the price - and it's well out of my price range. I guess I could probably make my own.... But anyway, these are my sentiments about the weather turning:

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Happy Day 55: Postcards.... Just Because

#100HappyDays Day 55: Mrs Im found this really tacky postcard from the 80s in Waterloo station, so she sent it to me just to make me smile.

Actually really from the 80s, look:

and to top it all off, this ride is called the Coca Cola Roller - try saying it, it made Middle B, Miss T and I giggle immensely.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Happy Day 54: Taking a Stroll

#100HappyDays 54: This chap has been strolling around the place, I think he's more comfy here than most of the students.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Happy Day 53: Unexpected Coffee

#100HappyDays Day 53: I was unexpectedly joined by a close friend for coffee in the library. It wasn't so great for my workload, but it did my heart a lot of good.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Happy Day 52: Clean Teeth!

#100HappyDays Day 52: Middle B and I decided to make our own toothpaste.

We used this here recipe from Grass Fed Girl but we used Xylitol instead of Stevia. Middle B got some peppermint essential oil so hers is minty fresh, while I used cinnamon extract. It tastes a lot of baking soda, but the enduring flavour is cinnamon.

As a complete aside, I cooked Sunday Dinner today with the help of Middle B, we made Pea Soup from the Roald Dahl cookbook (served up with crusty bread)

and we had Onion Pie from the Moomins Cookbook (served with steamed new potatoes and carrots). The pastry has carrot in it

And then to finish off someone else made lemon drizzle cake and custard. It was an amazing meal.... we're all stuffed! Sunday Sunday :)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Happy Day 51: Tee and Cake

#100HappyDays Day 51: Middle B and I went shopping and she spotted this t-shirt with instructions to bake cake in the label:

Brilliant! Here's another one:

Friday, 3 October 2014

Happy Day 50: Interesting Conversations

#100HappyDays Day 50: It's sunny and lovely and I ran into one of my favourite lecturers from last year and we chatted for about an hour about marriage and mental health and social media and gender stereotyping and how much he's enjoying being a dad and Faversham ship yard and Capitalism and.... It was delightful! He told me he always enjoys running into me on campus, that made me happy.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Happy Day 49: Swinging It!

#100HappyDays Day 49: I went out dancing last night and met my new Swing teacher. He taught us all a few moves, he was much more structured than I'm used to, it was fun. He said we are going to learn some Charleston too, which I'm very excited about! I asked the lovely lady how she kept her beret on the whole time and she said 'With many, many hat pins!' Together they made a great teaching team, I'm looking forward to learning some new dances.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Happy Day 48: Still Summer

#100HappyDays Day 48: I realise it's the 1st October and the leaves are turning, I've been wearing boots and tights and last few days.... and dying from heat! Beetroot coloured and dripping with sweat is not tres sexy I assure you, so today I went without tights and in a summer dress. Hurrah! It must have worked because on the way home I bumped into an old friend who said 'I was just thinking how attractive the women in this town are and then you actually came and talked to me!' I hope we have no-tights weather for a few weeks longer.