Thursday, 18 September 2014

{quotable thursdays}

phew, almost forgot to post! I'm editing/writing 3 different projects at the moment with looming deadlines and my fridge just went on the fritz...& I've got a bunch of exams to mark with an accompanying exam board so things are a bit crazy around here.
Good news is that we're having the warmest September in 50 years here in merry ol' England!
I came across this Austen quote the other night, which I love but also seems to fit my present state:

'I begin already to weigh my words & sentences more than I did, & am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration, or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Storecloset it would be charming.'
                                                           -Jane Austen, personal correspondence

Having all this writing to do, I feel the same way. If only I were as eloquent as the great writer herself!
{inspiration needed!}


Monday, 15 September 2014

{Simla turns 1!}

Today my dear little cat, Simla turns 1!

{all dressed up in her birthday hat!}

She's named after my granny who was born in Simla--amazing coincidence but my granny's birthday is tomorrow!
Simla was born near Ipswich to 'Kindaposh Royal Stroller' (father, a Havana brown) and 'Moonsfield Darkdate' (mother, a seal point Siamese). She gets her blue points from her grandfather 'He'smydarling.'
Here are some of my favourite pics since the day she arrived in my life:

{my portrait of her in a LBD}

{the day she arrived in the flat}

{similar? or simla'?}


{pillow hog}

{afternoon tea in the garden}

{special delivery}

{her favourite thing is to ride around in the laundry basket!}

{playing with her birthday 'mouse'}
{she even received a card all the way from Mexico!}


Thursday, 11 September 2014

{quotable thursdays}

Busy busy days. Huge meeting to prepare for on Saturday on top of 101 other deadlines.
{do it fabulously}
{hallo? yes I'm doing everything fabulously, thank you}

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

{à manger-beef stew}

This stew is a play on a number of stews...and very much  a bit of mixings of stuff I felt like eating! Because of that I don't have a handle really on proportions...but the idea is there & I'm sure you can follow if you are anything of an amateur cook!
It's really yummy comfort food and a perfect dish for autumn or winter.
Preheat oven to 180C
cooking time: roughly 1 hour

strips of beef
a large leek
about 8 small potatoes
a few mushrooms
a teaspoon of flour
a dash of wine
salt, pepper
handful or 2 of parsley
teaspoon of vegetable or beef stock (the powder kind)

1. I like my potatoes nice and roasted so I do them separately and add them in at the last minute. So first step, boil potatoes (cut into roasting size or slightly smaller) for about 4 minutes. Drain them and keep the water. Place them on a roasting tray with oil & salt and place them in the oven.

2. cut up the leeks, the mushrooms and place in a casserole with parsley. Add some salt, pepper, fresh rosemary & thyme & stock. Add in the beef strips (I had about two handfuls worth). sprinkle with a bit of flour. Then stir, and then add in about 2 cups of the potato water... and add a dash of wine.

3. Place in oven and cook around 20 minutes without lid. Then stir, put on lid, and check on potatoes (rotate a bit to make sure all parts get nice and crispy).

4. After another 20 minutes, check to see how everything is doing. You might add in some more wine if things aren't looking too brown...or add about a quarter of a teaspoon of marmite to brown it up (& make it tasty). Place potatoes on top of the stew and remove lid; cook a little longer until everything looks well done (about 10-20 minutes).

{garnish with fresh parsley and some freshly grated parmesan}


Thursday, 4 September 2014

{quotable thursdays}

{starting a new chapter}
Hi blogland! I'm back!
& since for many it's back to school this week, here are some thoughts on new beginnings. The best thing that school taught us every year, was that to start something new (a new year, a new school, a new class, a new book, a new ___ (fill in the blank)) required some courage. But once we started we could be led to new things and new discoveries. That's why learning is so exciting. And we never have to stop. So whether you're writing a new book, a new chapter, starting a new job, a new relationship, moving into a new house, to a new city... you are moving forward, ready to face the world in all its glory. And if you feel like you are leaving things behind, remember that you are also moving forward to things you have yet to know. so embrace it!

{just begin!}
so go ahead and fly readers!
ps: on that note, September is looking extremely busy as I take on a new role at work and try to finish up some research projects, so apologies in advance if I'm not on here as much as I should!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

{Quotable Thursdays}

I'm going to take a bit of a vacation from blog land, but see you on the other side!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

{dinner etiquette and hosting}

I'm a firm believer that the way we are brought up around the dinner table will affect us for the rest of our lives. It's not simply a matter of eating, rather it's connected to how we approach the ritual of sitting down together which encompasses polite conversation, conviviality, and of course eating-related activities. But eating involves so much more: food presentation and the food itself (is it prefab, a tv dinner, or homemade?) The atmosphere is just as important: is there a tv blaring somewhere? are there candles on the table? do you have proper cloth napkins? is there nice music playing? flowers on the table?
{I'm kind of obsessed with table settings, for more see my board on pinterest}

Linked to this is of course how we entertain and how we like to entertain. If eating your daily meal is celebrating the people around you, appreciating the small details and taking time out of your day to converse, savour your food, and slow down, then your entertaining style will likely reflect this as well.
{my family around the dinner table in the 90s (minus me)}

My mum is very down to earth--spending half of her life aboard ship, she has to be. But that doesn't mean that all of the things listed above are unimportant. Indeed, they are crucial to the running of a tight ship (metaphorically and realistically) and the maintenance of a 40+ year relationship with my father. They sit down for all meals, with cloth napkins & a tablecloth. Candles are lit every night and wine is enjoyed... Food presentation is also essential, so that my mum always provides some sort of garnish--whether it's merely a few pieces of cilantro and a tomato accompanying their scrambled eggs on a Monday morning, or a strawberry on the rim of the orange glass.
Equally important is the quality of food--my mum always makes homemade bread. After a day of sanding and refinishing their hardwood floors, the other day, I called and asked her what was for supper: she was making a roast lamb, rather than ordering take-out like normal humans would do. I love it.
My mum said that she learned these things from her mum--my grandmother Eva would get changed for dinner every night. Similarly, the little things are also important, which she learned from her mum and are now engrained in me, such as the butter knife so you don't get crumbs in your butter dish and of course grape scissors (or at least trimmed grapes) so that everybody can take a little bunch of grapes rather than leaving an ugly carcass on the table (!)

Anyway, I head home this week to visit my parents and they are hosting a little soirée. They've only recently moved to Nova Scotia so are still getting to know people. I simply *love* the invite and their ideas for a good evening:

"We would be delighted if you could join us for a ‘soiree’ on Saturday, August 23rd.  Our youngest daughter, Leah, will be here for a visit from London (Italian Renaissance Art History lecturer) [...]

Another reason for celebration is the ongoing renovations at Gaudeamus which proceed apace.  Who knows? Perhaps a new roof by then but no guarantees of a paint job.  Your constructive criticism and suggestions will be gratefully accepted.

Musical entertainment of the collaborative kind will be provided, good cheer will flow and conversation of the most scintillating sort is expected.  John and Mary will be on hand and we have invited John to bless our new home.

As I’m sure you know, Gaudeamus in Latin means “Rejoice” so we intend to do this with your welcome company. "

The follow-up email gets even better:

"Dear Friends,

We are excited that you will be joining us a week Saturday (August 23rd ) for a ‘soiree’ at Gaudeamus.

Also, in view of a “get to know each” quiz held at some time during the course of the evening, could you please drop us a line about something you (or a family member) did which we are not likely to know about?  Something famous, infamous or somewhere in between!  Tea with the queen? Contended in the Iditarod (dog sled race)? Short-listed for the Booker Prize? Insights of this nature will be greatly appreciated by those of us wishing to get to know you better!
(Please email such nuggets no later than Tuesday, August 19th)

Looking forward to your company.

M `n` M"

Following are some pictures of my own dinner-parties:


{my mum carving a roast when she visited for my knee surgery}

{kisses for the chef}

{cousins BBQ}
well, bon appétit!