Thursday, 30 September 2010

What to make?

Good morning all!! Well, what a nice surprise to wake up to a blue sky and sunshine this morning! (Well not quite of course, it was rather dark when I got out of bed!). After last night’s torrential rain, it makes a nice change. Today feels a little funny though, as if it should be Friday. I kinda feel in limbo, as if all the plans I have are waiting to happen tomorrow. I am brought back to reality though by a sharp pain related to my spinning efforts. Honestly, I’m going to have to buy myself a gel pad or something, it’s extremely painful. Not exactly what I need when I’m battling with myself to carry on doing exercise regularly and trying not to eat like a little piggy!! Although you know what, I couldn’t go to sleep last night and for what? I was thinking about what cakes and cookies I could make at the weekend to take into work next week to celebrate my birthday… Is that sad? Or slightly overly keen? I don’t know and I’m not sure I want to find out!! I’m actually thinking of making a mix of old favourites and trying out new recipes, some chocolate chip cookies, some peanut butter cookies, some biscotti, maybe a cake. Although cakes can be a little awkward to not only carry into work, but also divide into enough slices. Cakes can be messy too, and if you need a spoon/ plate/ napkin, it gets a little complicated don’t you think?

What would you recommend I do? What recipes do you follow when you need to make something tasty that needs to be carried around?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Ahead of myself

That's what I'm doing apparently. Getting ahead of myself. In my defence, this is the opinion of someone who doesn't crochet or knit. What do they know hey?! Nothing, that's what!!!

Well, that's not completely true, but it's fair to say that people who don't crochet or knit just don't understand the yarn love that one develops. It can easily turn into a slight obsession, and there's nothing wrong with that (unless of course you're spending all your money on it and can't afford to feed your children at the end of the month - bad knitter). So anyway, even though I've been extremely careful, trying not to buy any yarn unnecessarily, I seem to have accumulated a few odd balls over the last couple of years. I've had to rein in this yarn love of mine for two reasons: I don't earn much money and (direct consequence) I live in a small flat with limited storage space. Oh, actually, make that three reasons: I have a boyfriend. Enough said. So I guess this next project of mine is actually a good one because it involves using up about 90% of my acrylic yarn collection. Yes yes yes, you'll have guessed, I'm embarking on another crochet blanket! And urghm, yes, I haven't finished the last one yet. But that's ok, that's ok, I promise!!!

You see, it's all about Forward Planning. I enjoy crochet and knitting so much, if I haven't got something in mind for when I finish my current project, I feel like I'm in limbo. Whereas now, the second I finish Caerphilly, I can start on Arc en Ciel.

Why the Arc en Ciel (rainbow for those of you with limited French vocabulary ;-) )? Well, you see the two purple balls of yarn, the two green ones and the little orange one lurking at the back? They were all purchased from a lovely gentleman running a yarn shop in Toulouse. It is indeed a little souvenir from my French summer holiday. And the alternative being a reference to Wilkinsons',  which is where the rest of the yarn comes from, isn't so appealing, don't you agree?! Actually, that's a lie. I do plan on using up some blue yarn (about 6 balls) that I inherited from my nan. It's about 15 years old and dates back to a time when she attempted to teach me to knit and I pretended to knit my mum a scarf for a birthday (I say pretend because nan ended up knitting it really, I lost interest...). So I think it's quite legitimate for this blanket to be branded French.

So there, this will be a lovely colourful zigzaggy blanket (yes, in proper Attic 24 ripple style!!), to be taken on next year's camping holidays. Camping holidays?! Yes, we are now the proud owners of a comfy tent, and I fully intend on making the most of it when the weather gets better again!!! A warm blanket will be a great addition to our holidays, especially one that can be thrown in the washing machine when we get home!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I love cake

Hello everyone! Sorry for not posting yesterday, I was stuffing my face. Oh no wait there, that was only in the evening. No, I did indeed spend the day at work. What a miserable day it was, wasn’t it? So grey and drizzly, definitely the type of weather I hate the most. You know, the type that makes you want to slice your veins open. Anyway, enough about that. Back to the stuffing my face. The fun bit. We had leftover cake from the weekend you see. And I couldn’t take the risk of letting it go off, of course, you know me. So, want to know what we polished off nicely?

This lovely courgette and lemon cake (recipe here). I know what you’re thinking, eurgh, courgette in a cake!! You might even be like Boyfriend, a courgette hater. Well, I’m proud to say he is now converted. Probably not to having it as a side dish, but definitely in cakes. To be completely honest with you, I did make it in secret, hiding the courgette from him. And when everyone had a slice and announced it was indeed very good, I had most pleasure listening to them guess what they thought was the secret ingredient. (I’d like to point out for comedy value that we went through cucumber, green beans and spring onions – that doesn’t say much for the cake actually does it?! forget I ever mentionned that).

So yes, this cake has courgette in it. But as I’m sure you can imagine, it doesn’t taste of it. Instead, it tastes of lovely lemon, all that lemon zest and lemon juice. That lush lemon cream cheese icing. And of course, the piece de resistance, the lemon curd. How did I come to live life without ever making lemon curd? And not realising how utterly delicious it is? Someone should have given me a slap for this, I deserve it. Well I have now redeemed myself. I even put the leftovers in the freezer to be used at a later date, maybe when my mum next comes to visit we can enjoy it on some warm homemade scones. Mum, when are you coming?? (and no my mum doesn’t know about this blog!).

I made the lemon curd from a recipe in the River Cottage cookbook I have. It’s dead easy, although mine did take a lot longer to thicken than it said in the recipe. Although I was patient and stuck to it, I didn’t want to end up with lemon flavoured scrambled eggs after all. And all I can say is it was oh so worth it.

One word. Lush.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Friday food for thought

  • Breakfast is by far my favourite meal of the day. And although I love farls (with nutella? Heaven!), my favourite breakfast is by far smoked salmon and poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and a sliced muffin (the English type of course!)
  • My crotch hurts – sorry, that’s probably not you wanted to hear on a Friday morning, but I’m telling you, spinning isn’t all about happy sweating and thighs of steel (not that mine are anywhere near that stage – but I can safely say I’m no.1 contributor to the sweat production in that little studio)
  • I’m going to one of my local schools in a couple of weeks to hold a stand at a careers fair. I’m rather excited. I’ll be eating in the cantine and hanging out with the teachers. I feel like I’m 14 again.
  • Couple of birthdays coming up – I can’t make my mind up as to what cakes to make – I may have to make several things and let people in the office get fat. They're mostly blokes so they’ll love me for it anyway!
  • Last night's dinner was super lush. Give it a go, chicken with polenta (we swapped the chicken for turkey breasts and it was still super lush). Recipe from here.

  • And after that, I made little parcels of lushious peanut butter and chocolate chips. Recipe from here. Puffs all in my belly :-)

And because I know you need to see a little close up to convince you to make these babies (in no time I'd like to say and you only need puff pastry, peanut butter, chocolate chips, a little milk and granulated sugar) - you will thank me for it - ok maybe your thighs won't (what's with this thigh obsession today?!) but noone said you had to stuff it all down your gob in one go - just saying

  • edited to add: And Sue at the Quince Tree has received my little giveaway - well done Royal Mail for not loosing it!!

Happy Friday!! x

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Lately I have been...

Admiring these lovely flowers I bought at the market last weekend...

Finishing the first round of my Caerphilly blanket edging...

Wondering what to do with these cute little scraps of fabric...

Enjoying the fruits of my creative labour...

Hope you have a lovely Thursday, the weekend is nearly upon us! xx

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Final step

It's done, it's done!!!!!!! I've finished the assembling!!!!! All those little squares, I think they must have thought they were going to stay in little piles for the rest of the year! But no, I had bigger better plans for them. I'm SO happy, you can't imagine!! Although to be fair, this isn't the end of it!! Oh no, I'm going to attempt a border. I kept a little yarn deliberately. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it/ what stitch I'm going to use (any suggestions?), but I'm very VEry VERY excited. Can you tell? The end is so near!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday joy - for me and one lucky winner!

Good morning everyone!!! Oh what a beautiful Monday morning!! Isn't it just so nice, with a bit of sunshine and blue sky! Admittedly, it was rather dark this morning when I woke up, and bloody freezing too, so there's no doubt Autumn has well and truly started.

I'm happy today because I had a lovely weekend catching up with a great friend, Boyfriend and I made up after a rather unpleasant conversation, I slept like a baby, and I even went to the gym this morning. And best of all? I get to announce the winner of my little giveaway!! Ten of you left a comment on last Monday's post, so now it's time to pick a name! I've written all the names out on bits of paper, crumpled out said bits of paper, and mixed them in one hand (yeah sorry, no hat available, and I'm doing this at work so trying not to draw attention to what I'm up to!!).


the winner is.....

Sue at the Quince Tree!!!

Sue, can you please send me your address? (If you leave it in the comment section, I'll make sure I delete it so it doesn't get published.) Thanks to those of you who played along!

Right, I better get on with my work now!! Happy Monday xx

Friday, 17 September 2010

My first

Now, before you get funny ideas about what I'm going to write about, let me reassure you! I'm talking about my first knitted scarf. I blogged about it here. Well that's just when I decided it was time to block it (a few months after it was actually completed!).

Let's face it, it was my first, and it was full of mistakes. But I loved it for what it was. Until now. You see, it didn't bother me at first that it was full of little mistakes, dropped stitches and the like. When I did it, I didn't have the confidence to undo a few rows, start again and make it perfect. I'd also decided to make it in this rib stitch which is silly really because it makes it look really narrow, when actually it can stretch width wise by a fair amount. All in all, like other firsts, it was alright, made me happy to start with, but then I found better! I am by no means an experienced knitted, but I can do so much better now than I could back then. Which is why I've taken the mahoosive decision to frog it. I know it 's a big step, but it's one I'm prepared to take. I'm thinking a hat and a little matching neck warmer. What do you reckon? The yarn is quite fine, but I had some leftover from the scarf, so I could do something half decent.

But but but nothing, NOTHING will be started before I finish Caerphilly! I've promised myself! Well apart from a little something that I want to include in my giveaway - don't forget to comment on Monday's post if you haven't already!!

Have a nice weekend xx

Thursday, 16 September 2010


I'm feeling a little sorry for myself. I think I've got man flu. I'm in serious need of some wooly love, like a big fat blanket wrapped around me. But until I get home tonight, here's to hoping my computer gives me warm cuddles today instead of a big headache like yesterday. Work just gets in the way doesn't it?!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Crochet update

You may remember I had great plans. Great great plans to crochet myself a garment. Don't remember? Check it out here.

Well, I don't know how to say this, but it hasn't really happened. I put up a really poor effort. 10points for organisation and getting the yarn in time, but -50 for actual crochet efforts. Boo. So there. All I have to show is the initial chain and the first row of double crochet (and no, you don't want to see that, really it's quite embarrassing). Guess it'll be a 2011 top. To be completely honest, I don't mind too much. It's not like we're having an Indian summer or anything. And in my defence (yes yes it's not my fault really!), I was rather foolish to think I'd do any kind of yarn related activity in the South of France. Like I've told you before, it reached 40 degrees on several occasions, and I'm not one to sit down with balls of yarn on my lap just for the sake of it. Or because I proudly announced I'd be making my first item of clothing this summer. I'm just not that pig headed. Because the title of my holiday in France could have been this: Grubby. Hot and sticky. Not a crochet friendly combination.

So now I've finished making excuses, I can go back to working on Caerphilly. I've finished linking all the "columns" together, now I just need to start on the "rows". The end is near and I'm so excited. Rowan Summer crochet will just have to wait a little longer!

ps remember to comment on Monday's post if you haven't already done so!!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I live down saff innit

Hi. Let me introduce myself. I'm a sponge. No, not in the I'll-scoff-anything kind of way (well that as well actually). No, in the I'll-pick-up-any-accent kind of way. Rather shamefully I've started picking up a rather unattractive accent recently. Actually, if I'm not careful, it's more of a mix.

I've always been like this you see. Having spent a few years living in the States when I was kid and having American teachers at school, I ended up with a proper American accent. Nice and heavy, not thick and southern , but somehow, a friend's dad reckoned I'd kept an inkling of Texan twang. Nice. Then I moved to the UK to start uni and the inevitable happened. Over the course of two years, I totally morphed and started to sound resoundingly British. Home Counties if you don't mind. Well you didn't think I'd morphed into a scouser surely?!

Well recently, I've started mutating again. That mix I mentioned earlier?  Think Hollyoaks having a right old dance off with EastEnders. Yeah, that sounds about right. You get the old "somefink" mixed in with the rather unattractive "grass", with the "a" pronounced like in "mass". Honestly, someone stop me. It gets worse when I'm tired too.

It happens even in French. If I spend any amount of time in the south or even just in the company of someone with a southern accent, I start to pick it up. Only difference is, I think that's rather funny, or even cute. Southern French people sound more like they're singing, the way they talk is just so much more animated and fun. Yes, fun. So I don't mind. But this horrible habit of mine to forgo the occasional "th" to be replaced by "ff" is utterly disgusting. But you know what? It's such a lazy way of speaking. That's probably why I've picked it up. That and the fact that I obviously spend way too much time watching soaps. Crisps and shit TV? Count me in, I'm your gal.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Welcome to the south of France

Here they are, my long-awaited holiday photos. I know I'm rather rubbish at all this, I'm about three weeks late aren't I? Oh well, better late than never!!

Now, my aim is not to make you jealous (or bored as it happens). I just hope these photos of sunshine bring you a little bit of light on this gloomy Monday morning. And you never know, there might be something in for you if you keep going till the end.

So, we shall start with Bordeaux, where the trip began.

Tasty  looking macarons...

Vineyards owned by friends of the family... couldn't get any better!!

And a close up of course!!

One of the nicest chambre d'hotes I've stayed in. I'd highly recommend it if you're going near Agen.

One of many beautiful houses seen on the way up to the bastide of Bruniquel

Kayaking on the Aveyron near St Antonin Noble Val.... so refreshing when it's 40 degrees in the sun!!

Admiring the view in Albi

A lovely park in Toulouse...

And look at that Toulouse sky - feel the heat!

Well, how was it? Enjoyable I hope!! Oh how I wish I could be there all over again!! Waking up to lovely breakfasts, swimming around in a pool with magnificent views over the countryside, playing table tennis to my heart's content... Well, it wouldn't have been special if I could do it everyday I hear you say?! And yes I know, I know, you are right, but still, there's always a bit of me that wishes I'd never left....

So in the meantime, I've got stuff to keep me happy here!! You don't think we came back empty handed did you?! And something for one of you might even have slipped in my bag. Now, don't get too excited, but it's just a little something (and maybe some extras if you're lucky) to say thank you to all of you for making Petit Filoux what it is today. This blog has completely changed my view on things, and without meaning to sound really daft, this wouldn't have happened without you. It's just so nice to read your comments, to know that I'm not just talking to myself here!! So there, to say thank you for coming back day after day, leaving comments, and to wish this little blog a belated one year anniversary, I'm hosting a little giveaway. Just leave a comment at the end of this post and you'll be entered in it. You have until Sunday 19th September midnight. A winner will be picked next Monday!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Falling off the tree

I've meant to post about this for a while but just didn't get round to it. Remember last year there was a glut of cherry plums around my neck of the woods? Well, same thing again this year. Although I did have to be a little bit organised. Fruit seems to have come early this year, so I had to deal with the plums before going to France. No way was I letting this slip under my nose, I'd just started my last jar from the 2009 bounty! And you know what? It was dead simple.

All I had to do was shake some branches. It all came crashing down. All those little ripe cherry plums, begging to be taken home. I couldn't leave them to rot could I?! Everyone else seems to not care about them, second year in a row now and I'm still the only one picking them. So want to guess how many pots of jam I made with 2.6kg of stoned and halved cherry plums?

Ten would you believe it?! I know one's missing from that photo, it's already on the go in the fridge!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Next step

Now that the blocking's all done (hippee hurray *little jig around my desk*) I have to start the assembling process. I'm shaking. Honestly, I'm so worried about messing it up. But I'm a big girl (no pun intended) and I'm sure it'll be ok in the end. Anyway, this is my blanket, mine all mine, and it's my first one, so whatever happens, I'll be very proud!! Here we go...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Yummy figs

It wasn't just blackberries that kept us busy at the weekend, oh no. Something else much more exotic made me all excited indeed. I'll give you a clue...

Still no idea? Let me show you!

Figs!!! I was lucky enough to get in contact with a lady in a nearby town who has a fig tree, but no one in her family likes them, so I was more than welcome to come and pick them. I didnt' have to be asked twice!!! There are still a few left that are yet to ripen, which is rather doubtful considering the miserable weather we're having at the moment, but still, we managed to get about 20. Cue a lush pudding on Saturday night of roasted figs with walnut, honey and yogurt. But the most exciting thing was making this fig preserve. I look forward to opening a jar when I next see my mum because she's a great fan of figs. I got the recipe from my much used River Cottage preserves book. Fingers crossed it's turned out ok!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Blackberries coming out of my ears

This is why Boyfriend and I had a super busy weekend. Last year's blackberry brandy went down so well, we thought we'd do it again this year. Boyfriend's dad loved it so much we thought we'd help him get his own batch on the go too. So off we went, rucksack full of tupperwares ready to fill them. We weren't sure if we were going to be too late, I've been seeing ripe blackberries in south London for a couple of months now. But oh no, we were not to be disappointed. In total, we picked 3kg. Yes 3kg!!!! So want to see the work in progress?

Isn't it beautiful? ;-)

And of course there was some 1kg left after that as well, so I got my little apron on (well metaphorically you know) and used up the last of my spare glass jars to make some blackberry jam! The smell in the kitchen was simply divine! I'm now tempted to go pick some more to make some blackberry and apple leather...!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Not there yet

Yes, I'm sorry, I haven't quite sorted out my French photos yet, so it'll be a couple more days before I can show you what I got up to on holiday (and at the same time convince you you have to go there too!). This weekend was a busy one. I'll save details for tomorrow, but what I can say now is that my jam cupboard (yes I have an official jam cupboard - well more of a cupboard section but still, it's big!) needed some rearranging. Things got a little crowded.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this. Isn't it cute? A present from my mum to boyfriend. A little random I know, but oh so very cute. Eggs never tasted so good ;-)

Happy Monday all! xx

Friday, 3 September 2010

Moo moos

Anyone remember the elephants we had around London recently ? Well, a similar event was going in Bordeaux when we visited the place a couple of weeks ago now, right at the start of our holiday. Basically, if you're not familiar with the scheme, it consists of a whole number of decorated cow sculptures being scattered around town.

They are there for the enjoyment of the public, but more importantly to be sold at auction to raise funds for charitable activities, in the case of Bordeaux, la Banque Alimentaire de Bordeaux et de Gironde (the local/ regional food bank). Apparently there are 58 in total. We didn't start photographing those we saw for a while, so here is only a small selection to whet your appetite.

I generously receive all donations you may want to make to send me back there to make a full photographic record of all the cows. That's me, generous.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

For all you cat lovers out there

We visited one of the most cat obsessed villages ever. Kinda cute and kinda creepy at the same time. Here's the story.

Back in 1338, in a small village in Gascogne called La Romieu lived a little girl called Angéline. Due to unfortunate circumstances (I'm sparing you the details here), Angéline ended up an orphan but was taken in by a neighbour who brought her up as one of her own. 1342 and the following two years were hard for the village. Winters were harsh and springs wet, which led to a critical lack of food. Villagers turned to the many cats living in the village and killed them to eat. Angéline's adoptive parents, knowing how much she loved cats, allowed her to keep a couple, as long as she made sure she hid them properly. After the villagers survived this famine, another problem hit them. With all the cats gone, the village had become infested with rats. By then, Angéline's cats had bred and she had about twenty hiding up in her attic. She decided to released them all into the wild. The rats subsequently disappeared and Angéline became a hero. It is said that as she grew older, she came to resemble a cat...

Freaked out? Well you know, it's a cute little story isn't it. The funny thing is, a local sculptor heard the legend and decided to make sculptures of cats and scatter them around the village. Here's a little montage of all those rather intriguing stone felines...

Now, this is where it actually gets funny. I spotted this cat on a window sill up high.

I made cute little noises at it. What was I thinking, was it going to come down jump on my face or something? Scroll down to have a look.

And a close up. Because I just can't resist.
It stuck its tongue out at me. It makes me laugh out loud every time I look at it.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Deux cafés s'il vous plait!

I don't do coffee. Or tea for that matter. Or any kind of hot drink. Very occasionally, if it gets really really cold, I might have the odd herbal tea. And on a bad day (or good day, depending which side of the fence you sit on), hot chocolate. But put me in a different country and I'm guzzling down stimulants like there's no tomorrow. Photographic evidence from France? There you have it. Espressos all the way.

Oh and a few other drink shots in there for good measure.

Because there was some alcohol consumption.

Not much, but definitely more than normal. There was a night when I sipped on the strongest mojito in the world, ran across town and banged on a shop window until someone came out (in my defense it was 9.55 and they were meant to close at 10 - not impressed). Perhaps this is a story for another day. A dark cold day when I have nothing else to write about.