SaturYAY

Finally we have a headboard for our bed! After a couple of years of uncomfortably stacking pillows between my back and the cold wall behind it at last I can sit up in bed in luxurious comfort.   Weekend mornings are the one time I demand to be left alone for an hour or so to have a cup of tea and just be free of orders/complaints/endless meandering stories that I never quite understand. It is a slice of time that has not been easy to carve out for myself and it is still very much a work in progress (as a small shadow darkens my door waving a picture for my consideration) but on the whole I think I am a pretty responsive, attentive, parent to two children who, in my opinion, rank fairly highly on the emotional/attention needs scale (is there such a thing? Maybe I score high on the need for my own space scale).  and now coming up fast on a decade of motherhood I am finally getting firmer about demanding my right to my own space and time. Even in the form of an hour to drink tea in peace, twice a week.

So the headboard.. you probably have one. Most competent grown ups do, I imagine. But our bedroom is the most forgotten, abandoned wasteland of the whole house.  We don’t even have curtains, or pictures on the wall. So this is a proud acheivement and now I am browsing etsy and pinterest like mad to find inspiration to finally get our room looking finished.  We made it ourself and it was super easy, no I don’t have any progress photos, it was that quick. Glue foam to wood, wrap batting around and staple it to the back of the wood.  Wrap fabric around and staple aswell. Hang it on the wall.  There is no reasonable excuse for why it took so long.

Reading 

Carrie´s War with my oldest. We have just started but the first chapter left us wanting more…

we are also about halfway through Trucker´sbut it hasn’t really sucked us in which is a bit disappointing because I LOVED the Discworld novels as a teenager and thought the Bromeliad Trilogy would be a great place to start.

Big hits with the 9 year old for reading to himself are the Wimpy Kid books, David Walliams, Futbolisimos and Big Nate.  Once he finds a book he likes he is an avid reader so I am constantly on the lookout for new suggestions.

My very-nearly-6 year-old still enjoys a massive range of his extensive library of books and hasn’t latched on to any style or series in particular.  We particularly like Jack and the Flum Flum Tree (and any and all Julia Donaldson books), Milo Armadillo, The Pirate Cruncher, The Pirates Next Door and The Jolly Postman (skipping the Big Bad Wolf page)among many others.  I am equal parts relieved and disappointed that he has not had the same passion for The Magic Faraway Tree series that O had though I think I could actually read them half asleep with my eyes shut, so there would be that advantage.

Eating

Last week B and I went to a work lunch and were served Pasta Puttanesca and we have made it a few times at home since where it has been heartily welcomed into the regular rotation of meals, though it is more than a little obvious that a dish containing  such unappealing components such as mushrooms and black olives is only accepted as a compromise in getting to eat a meal with such a naughty name (Cue hearty and repeated exclamations of Pasta PUTTAnesca throughout the meal)

Exercise

I am finishing week 11 of the BBG and feeling really pleased with myself. I did my first round in 2014/2015 (18 weeks to be exact) before I suddenly hit a wall.. only to be diagnosed with colon cancer a few weeks later.  It was somewhat gratifying in a bizarre and dark way to know that it wasn’t my advancing age and old bones and a decrepit pelvic floor that made me suddenly unable to continue where apparently hundreds had managed before me.  After a year of treatment and surgeries left me with no muscle and masses of cellulite dimpling my skinny yet flaccid thighs I finally marshalled my willpower and got back on the wagon.  I did the 4 week pre-bbg workout and then did week 1 to 6 of the BBG. After week 6 the workouts keep increasing in general mental-ness and I didn’t quite feel ready so I went back to week 1 and this time I felt fine to carry on through.  I do modify some moves, jump lunges feel like a one way street all the way to a sprained ankle or twisted knee so I do them static. And the ones where you do a burpee and leap onto a bench have been abandoned in the wake of a slew of bruises and scrapes.  But even with modifications it is still a hard workout that you can fit in just about anytime, anywhere. I plan to just keep doing 12 week loops until I get bored.  I don´t see a massive change on the outside but have definitely made leaps and bounds in strength and fitness and I am trying to keep that as my main goal.

Making

I am on the final straight with my swan for Y’s wall.  I have been plodding away with it since November, although not solidly, and like most projects has lost its sparkle a little as it turned into something to be finished though as i now start the finishing up and putting together I am again excited to see the finished product. Hope to update on this very soon.  If you like the look of these check out Vanessa Mooncie´s Animal Heads it was a present last christmas and I have made 2 fox heads (one as a gift and I loved him so much I made another for myself – he doesn´t look as boss-eyed in real life as he does here) and now the swan.  O has a request queued for the stag head and then I will DEFINITELY need a break from animal heads for a while.   I would not describe myself as anything more than a novice crochet-er so if you know the basic stitches and want a change from blankets I would absolutely recommend you give it a whirl.

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Back feathers. And a rock that we can’t seem to lose no matter what.
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Chest feathers
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Food, glorious food

I do not know how food bloggers do it. Its not like I want to be one, I mean it just isn’t the main aim of this blog, but I do like recording some of the meals I particularly like and want to revisit.  The problem is that I am usually several bites in before I realise I have not taken any photos of either the process OR the end result.  Not that I would have had time had I remembered.  Usually food prep is a noisy and busy affair. I am not alone in a pristine white washed studio apartment with dappled sunlight streaming through the windows. Ok sometimes the sun is kinda pretty in the late afternoon. But the comparison ends there. Our kitchen is small by many people’s standards.  And I am usually fending children off with elbows and knees as I slice and dice (the veggies) screaming NO YOU CAN’T HAVE A YOGHURT DINNER IS ALMOST READY and WHY WOULD I LET YOU GO TO THE SHOP FOR A SODA WHEN HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THESE QUESTIONS? for the umpteenth time. Added to which I am just a regular person with regular mix and match kitchen stuff, we seem to be incapable of holding onto matching sets in this house. Its practically a trademark at this point.  We buy 6 identical plates and in no time we are down to 4 so then they get mixed up with the others and glasses. Oh my god glasses. 

Years and years ago when we were two young lovebirds in a lovenest we played a game of Mr and Mrs with some friends. For those who don’t know its that game where you play in couples and you both have to answer the same without conferring.  By the way if there are cracks in your relationship DON’T play this game. Trust me.  One of the questions was how many glasses do you have in your house.  We both said 9. NINE.  How did we know there were nine? Because we knew there were two small ones like this and a white glass like that and three of the fat tumblers.. Our friends were kind of appalled. In a nice way but still. So you get the idea. Things have not changed much in the intervening years. Kitchenware rates high as eye candy for me but when it comes to how I need to allocate the spending it simply doesn’t get a look-in. 

Woah to the detour. The point I was trying to make was that making dinner JUST doesn’t feel like a photo op kinda moment. And photos seem important.   Its like proof  that I know what I am doing. Which, lets be clear, I don’t. My cooking skills are middling at best. I like cooking and I can follow a recipe but I am not much of an improviser and I can tend to get into food ruts. Which is why I want to record the odd meal, so I can once in a while look back and go ‘oh yeeeaaaa we loved that, lets do it’. It may also inspire me to liven it up a bit around here. Though I know very little about it I am guessing its not the done thing to just post the same spag bol recipe once a week? Right? So I need pics. Why do we need pics? I don’t know but  I have to admit if someone says they cooked an amazing meal I am all ‘pic or it didn’t happen’. I mean on here. Not in real life. That would be more than weird. In real life I go mmmm and oooh and wow that sounds amazing send me the recipe. On the web you have to PROVE it.  I am not sure why but There it is.   I don’t make the rules.  Example:

This evening I made my favourite lentil salad. It is hands down THE best lentil salad ever. In fact it is actually called that. I got it from a blog and now I will have to go and find which one so credit can be given where credit is due. You can woo people with this salad. It is a total assault on the senses.  It has onion and lentils and about 10 spices and you can add rucula and feta and it is THE. BEST. 

Without the pic you are like. Yeah, great, that sounds nice for you. With a couple of pics you are like Oooh okaayyy maybe I will give it a whirl. And it breaks up the waffle lets call a spoon a spoon.  

So. New challenge. Photograph my food. At least sometimes. And with no more than one bite already eaten. I will try.  

Fish food

We almost always make food ‘from scratch’. In fact here it is very much the norm and I am not even sure there is a set phrase in spanish for ‘from scratch’ as it is largely assumed that is just how you would prepare food. There are ready meal and packet meal options in the supermarkets but far less quantity and variety than in the UK, where there is again much less than in the US.  I remember a trip to Miami a couple of years ago where there was a whole aisle of bread options. I was totally lost and stood there dithering for a good 10 minutes, completely perplexed.  In the UK it would maybe be half an aisle, equally confusing for me, as someone crippled with indecision over the most trivial decisions.  Here you can choose from about 6 different kinds.  Tops. In the supermarket I usually go to there are two sandwich bread options. Brown or White.  Easy.  The same can be said of ready meal / quick package meal options (and everything in fact) – so cooking from basics is just the norm.  HOWEVER.  No one or where is perfect and we all have our quicky dinners to fall back on.  I am talking specifically about Fish Fingers.  Beloved of (almost all) children (almost) everywhere, they were that one thing I could have in the freezer as back up for the days I found myself especially rushed and hassled and without a single original idea in my head for dinner.   Until one day the kids decided they didn´t like them anymore.  and that was that.  Luckily they do still like and eat normal fish so we tend to eat it about once a week.  Anyway this week we decided to have a go at making home made fish fingers and they were a roaring success.

As I am neither a food blogger or a photographer I missed out all the beautiful ´work in progress´ pics that seem pretty much mandatory for a post like this.  Look, I was busy actually preparing my kids food, there was no time for pics.  I will try to be more organised in future.  But you know what these things look like so use your imagination, add an instagram filter to those mental images and sorted.

White fish fillets

Breadcrumbs (about 5 slices? a handful?)

1 egg

zest of 1 lemon

salt, pepper

Heat your oven to 200F.  Prep a baking tray with greaseproof paper.  Whizz up your breadcrumbs in whatever whizzy machine you use.  Don´t try baguette, it doesn´t work.  Maybe that is common knowledge but it was news to me so I am sharing it just in case (you´re welcome).  add salt, pepper, lemon zest and mix it all up.

Grab those fish fillets.  I used white, I think it was hake but I am sure anything would work. I had 4 fillets totally about 500g.   Cut them into approximate goujon type size (See pic).  Roll them about in the egg (you have cracked and beaten it already, right?) then roll them in the breadcrumbs.  Throw them on the baking tray and into the oven.  20 mins later or when golden and yummy looking, take them out.

We ate them with home made fries (what other kind is there?) if you have never made oven chips WHERE ARE YOU FROMM? you just slice up the potato, drown it in a few glugs of olive oil, sprinkle on salt and throw in the oven on HOT HOT HOT for like, 20 mins? Look I SAID I am not a food blogger.  We heat the oven on max setting, throw them in and then when we go OH SHIT THE CHIPS we turn them down to about 200-220 and just keep an eye on them.

To accompany H zapped up some guacamole (1 avocado, juice of 1 lime, about as much onion as looks like what 1 shallot would look like i.e. about a quarter –   we never have shallots to hand – salt.  coriander if you are lucky) and I did some aioli and a salad.

Aioli (basically garlic mayonnaise but H gives me murderous looks when I call it that so sssshhh don´t tell him)

into a receptacle throw:

1 big garlic clove, sliced

1 egg

from a 200ml ish glass of oil add at this point just a good few glugs

whizz with handheld whizzy machine until it all looks combined.  slowly add the rest of the oil until you have quantity/ consistency you want.  I added almost all of it.  At the end add the juice of quarter of a lemon, zap zap zap, and you are done.

Super healthy, super yummy, all homemade natural ingredients and just look at him shoving it in his mouth..