Thursday, 29 January 2009

Week 3 of kitchen refitting, and it should all come together this weekend. I will be so glad to have the cooker, hob and sink again! Reheating stuff from the freezer just isn't the same! And washing up in the bathroom, well its just feels wrong.
I cannot wait to get cooking again. More soon.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Home again

Broadstairs- Viking Bay

Home again following some winter travels that will keep us going for some time. Being in Broadstairs (on the Kent coast) the first week reminded me that a lovely place doesn't rely on weather to hold it's charm. For our second week, we spent it with different family members, ending up on the borders of West and North Yorkshire. I'll elaborate more soon as have plenty of pics (about time to try flickr) and things, plus my thoughts are elsewhere these few days since the last few days of our time away.

Feeling the fragility of life acutely since the news that on old school friend died suddenly within days of the birth of his third child and his 35th birthday. A virus which reached the heart. All love and thoughts are with his wife and family. It impossible to stop thinking about them, how his wife, especially, is getting through the days. There are several of us old secondary school classmates united in shock and grief.

I don't think there is anything that can be said that can alleviate things to the closest family in these early days, it's too terrible. There is an anthology which I think can help make people feel less alone and includes writings on the different stages of grief. As a Shakespeare quote (Macbeth) quote within reads:

'Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'erfraught heart, and bids it break'.

And after time, hopefully;

.. 'in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits.' (John Keats, 'Endymion', Book 1)

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Many things new

Seen quite a change in the boys this week. Their hours have increased at preschool now they are very settled (and now we receive the government assistance for 3-year olds) and to allow some extra time for work hours. I had been quite worried about whether 6 sessions would be too much. They are certainly tired when they come out, but it doesn’t seem to catch up with them until we are well on the way home, and it doesn’t matter if they nap in the buggy for a handful of minutes.

Their teacher told me at the door on Tuesday that they joined in at 'circle' time. Was so ecstatic; I could feel a film prickle my eyes- a bit over the top! But for four months they haven’t wanted to join in with the more structured 'circle' sessions.This hasn’t been seen as a problem at all, they are little and the school is Montessori and individuality is key.But the difference now is that some of the older children have gone on to primary school, and some new little ones have joined so Rohan and Luca aren’t the youngest anymore. So perhaps they feel more comfortable with this new position within the order of things!

And they LOVE having lunch. They have these bento lunch boxes, which have different colours and compartments and they love them! I heard about them through vegan lunchbox which is hugely inspiring....

And thanks to redlentil found a great idea for a sandwich filling- butterbean and tomato pate. The result from blanching some tomatoes, garlic, a can of butterbeans and tomato puree made a gorgeous combination. I used some for pasta sauce and made a thicker pate of it for sandwiches. They loved it in the pasta, but didn't eat in in the sandwiches, but it was only the first taste in the sarnie form, and new things aren't ever taken up straight away.

Well I am bracing myself for two night shifts packing up our kitchen. We are having the kitchen made good, and a new one installed, and are going to do a combination of reli-visiting and holidaying. Funnily enough, we are going on a little seaside holiday! I know, I have noticed the weather! But... can't stay with family the whole time (a lot to ask any one!) and rates to hire a cottage are so cheap this time of year! Will blog on our return, hoping to have some good vegan experience but will have some supplies in stow at any rate. Some pics coming up of our current kitchen (which I acutally like but need to turn it into a family one):

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Chasing butterflies in January

New Year's Eve dinner was the same as Christmas, since realising we still had a tin of chestnut puree left in the cupboard. Desert was vegan plum pudding from 'The Village Bakery' with soya cream. Very seasonal and yum:

Our friends came up to see in the New Year and the boys had fun playing with the girls. They absolutely loved one game in particular, elefun, which involved catching paper butterfiles out of an elephant's blowing trunk!
My friend loves carrot cake so made this vegan version I found here.
It makes a lovely, moist cake and the icing is delicious although it was a little runny so had to keep it in the fridge, don't think I added enough icing sugar.

Part of lunch today was basmati rice salad from the book Vegan. It was a lovely tangy feast, the picture doesn't do it justice. I haven't made that much from this book before. It is one I leaf through when thinking about special occasions; most of the recipes use a range of ingredients, and are good for dinner parties. Very, very good though. We had the rice on the side with butternut squash soup.

Took a picture of the tree, which is stil adding a bit of magic to the setting:

Ended up this eve with a simple favourite of the boys- macaroni cheese; a vegan version on the left (for me) and vegetarian-right- (for the rest of the family) as we have some dairy cheese. The boys happily eat both versions at the moment.

Am on the lookout for inspirational packed lunch ideas. The boys are going to start having lunch at preschool; R currently only eats peanut butter in sandwiches.... but at the school there are two children with a severe nut allergy, and nuts are ruled out altogether as an option. This extends to all nuts so can't try the other nut butters such as cashew or almond. Thankfully the boys have been ok with peanuts. So, got to get creative! I would love to hear of any suggestions.