Thursday, 28 February 2013

Nature In The Home

Joining in with Lou's 'Nature in the Home' series. You can see the beautiful button over top right just now. I was going to try moving it around a bit; but I am quite enamoured with it,  so it is staying right at the top for just now. Lou is an artist with a fantastic blog, 'Little Green Shed', that I visit very often, and you must too.

Just a wee pic of my back room clutch of house plant survivors. I have loved the Amaryllis we had the privilege of entertaining on the window ledge for the last few weeks and I think some fragrant hyacinths must replace it this weekend.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Hungarian Apple Pudding

Finding Margaret Costa's 'Four Seasons Cookery Book' was a great start to the week. It brightened my Monday and by Tuesday night I was already cooking from it. I have always loved apple puddings, my Mum's Eve's pudding, with cold milk instead of cream or ice cream (a trait I picked up from my Dad who says it originates from the rationing he says he grew up with just after the war) is my all time favourite. Apple puddings are homely, comforting, full of memories and sweet and tart at the same time. It figured then that I turned to the apple section of Margaret's book first. I attempted the 'Hungarian Apple Pudding' and it was delicious. We ate it piping hot with Swedish Glace the dairy free ice cream we all love.

4 large cooking apples; 3 tablespoons (45 mls) orange juice;
2 1/2 oz (70g) fine breadcrumbs; 1 tablespoon (15ml) butter;
3 oz (85g) caster sugar; pinch of salt; 2 eggs;
3 tablespoons (45ml) caster sugar, for meringue.

Peel and grate the apples, and stir in the fruit juice and breadcrumbs. Cream the butter with the sugar and the pinch of salt, add the egg yolks and beat thoroughly. Blend thoroughly with the first mixture. Beat the egg whites up stiffly and fold in the remaining 3 tablespoons (45mls) of sugar. Fold this meringue into the apple mixture and turn into a buttered fireproof dish. Stand in a baking tin of hot water and cook in a moderate oven, mark 4, 350f, 180c, for about an hour. Serve with a custard sauce or with cream.

(Recipe from 'Four Seasons Cookery Book', Costa, Margaret, 1996, Grub Street)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Four Seasons Find

Monday's are never my favourite days. I try my best not to let them get me down and approach them with a 'let's get this over with' stance. One thing is for sure the week is so much sweeter when Monday is taken care of.

As its a work day for me I do my best to get out for a brisk stroll at lunchtime. More often than not my feet take me to a few Charity shops. Today was no different and
my luck was in as I found a perfect copy of Margaret Costa's 'Four Seasons Cookery Book'.

I have heard it mentioned by many of my favourite cookery writers in terribly reverential terms- Laurie Colwin, Nigel Slater, and Nigella Lawson to name but a few. An initial quick flick through confirms that it will be much in use very soon. In fact as I turn the pages I'm contemplating 'Hungarian Apple Pudding' for dessert tomorrow night (my MIL dinner night, she loves a good pudding!).

I will let you know how it goes! Hope your Mondays have been bearable and the rest of your week is bright and happy. Jo x

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


For a long time I was immune to the charms of iitala glass.  I just couldn't work out what made it better than any other (much cheaper) glass votives.  However to cheer up winter this year we were burning lots of candles and I started to lust after the Kastehelmi or 'dewdrop' glass range.  It reminds me of glass my Nana had and looks so very pretty either in daylight or in darkness, lit of course.  I took the plunge last month and treated myself to two small purchases and I can now equivocally say that iittala is quite special and that this little grouping above are currently making me extremely happy!

Hope you are enjoying the sunshine today, the top picture was just taken in my sunny front room! Jo xx

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Life ReCollections - Handsel

Handsel - it is a 'gift of implicit - or explicit - blessing at the start of something new'.

Just over two years ago in the last few weeks of my pregnancy with our daughter, as we awaited her arrival, my father in law was contemplating the end of his life, staying in a retreat for people with terminal illness on the island of Colonsay. In his usual selfless style, always thinking of others,  he purchased a small book for us from the only book shop on the island. It is called simply ' Handsel - Scottish Poems for Welcoming and Naming Babies'.

In its affecting, lyrical and honest introduction by Candia McWilliam it refers to how 'we are reborn through each birth among the constituency of those we love' (McWilliam, Polygon, 2005). 'Consituency of those we love', what a powerful expression. It collects together some beautiful verses which are suggested as possible words of blessing for new borns, whether you choose to christen your babes or not. Whilst neither of our children are yet christened, I did choose Handsels for them both.

When staying in Skye very soon after I knew I was expecting our son we visited Dunvegan Castle and I was reminded of the Fairy Flag legend and the wee rhyme the fairy sang to the Chieftain's son;

Bone and flesh of me,
Blood and pith of me,
Skin like falling snow,
Green thy mail coat,
Live thy steeds be,
Dauntless thy following.

The story of the Fairy Flag had captivated me since I was a child and these words spoke to me about the visceral nature of birth, the cleaving of a child that is so much part of you, away from you, precious and other. And who wouldn't want their child to be clad in armour, with strong horses and with loyal people surrounding them. Very much the wishes for a future Chieftain but amazingly still with some resonance to me and my son.

When our daughter was born, again I chose some beautiful words for her; This time  from William Soutar, a poet from Perth, where I grew up. In fact he lived and died (sadly very young) not 5 minutes from my childhood home.

To The Future

She, the unborn, shall bring
From blood and brain
Songs that a child can sing
And common men:

Songs that the heart can share
And understand;
Simple as berries are
Within the hand:

Such a sure simpleness
As strength may have:
Sunlight upon the grass:
The curve of the wave.

Words that suit my beautiful girl,  expressed 'in language as plain as pebbles' (McWilliam, Polygon, 2005).

Did you use words to welcome your children into the world? If you did I would love to hear about them. Jo xx

Please click back here and read my introduction to this set of posts. It will explain a lot. As ever your thoughts on whatever I share here are taken to my heart and that you take the time is just grand. It occurred to me to label these posts 'Life ReCollections'. You will see them popping up over the next few weeks when I feel brave enough....

Friday, 15 February 2013

A lot like love - just a little bit late.....

'When Jane Louise went upstairs she saw that Teddy had brought up the bags and also that he had turned down the bed-covers. Teddy was not generally expressive, and when he was, Jane Louise felt like a person in a fairy tale whose heart had been pierced by a rose thorn.'

A Big Storm Knocked It Over by Laurie Colwin

Just some words I read earlier this week and they struck me as appropriate for St Valentines. We should recognise love all through the year shouldn't we? Have a lovely weekend everyone. xx

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Some happy things

After the angst of my last post (and I was so happy to read your comments, I have replied to you all) here is some of what we have been up to. The last few days have been full of catching up with friends and family, playing hide and seek in the woods, acquiring new pots, burning candles (its still quite dark around here) and some messy crafting!

I am off work for most of half term and have a day with my boy, just the two of us tomorrow. We have some good plans to realise too, we are excited!

Wishing you all a lovely break together with your families if half term is coming up for you, and a great start to the week for everyone.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Life ReCollections - Never be Mine by Kate Bush

There are some things that can only come to you through accumulated life experience and the vantage point of years. Isn't music often the thread that sews our memories and remembrances together. Never Be Mine by Kate Bush - do you know that one? I urge you to seek it out. Its a song that never leaves me due to its haunting lyrics and wistful dream like atmosphere. It is essentially a meditation on unrequited love - 'I look at you and see, my life what might have been..'

I first heard it on a series of perfectly heartbreaking (I know this in retrospect) mix tapes made for me by a friend. I listened to them late into the night in my first solo flat. A cool, but tiny and expensive place in Glasgow's Merchant City. There were other songs like Kiteflyers Hill by Eddi Reader, Girl from Mars by Ash and Let me Paint You a Picture by Billy Bragg - you get the picture.

At the time I viewed these songs through the prism of my own relationship (s) angst and completely overlooked the heart of the person who gave them to me. It was the arrogance of youth I think and blind belief that men and women can be friends without sex coming in the way. Suffice to say that song has stuck with me through the years, it is immensely intense with meaning and I regret being blind to the enormity of feelings it might have encapsulated.

Being more aware back then probably wouldn't have changed the course of my life but perhaps I might have been a little kinder to those those hiding some big feelings.

Please click back here and read my introduction to this set of posts. It will explain a lot. As ever your thoughts on whatever I share here are taken to my heart and that you take the time is just grand. It occurred to me to label these posts 'Life ReCollections'. You will see them popping up over the next few weeks when I feel brave enough....