Tuesday, 31 May 2011

I Love the Dough

My friend Paul is a bit of a clever clogs when it comes to making bread. He gave me a sourdough starter of my own. Then he gave me another one when I killed that first one. And he didn't make a single unkind comment about my neglectful ways, or anything. He's that nice.
Dagnabbit if I don't learn a lesson every once in a while. I've not only kept it alive, but I've also actually produced a loaf from it. 
So, here's evidence of the live, active and fed starter ...
Add water, flour and give it a bit of welly ...
Pop the dough into an oiled bowl and leave to sit quietly for a few hours. Seven, in fact. Longer isn't worser ...
I can hardly remember how I got to this point. Actually, it was at this point that I realised I had to leave it to sit for another hour. Which was a shame, as I had to leave for work in thirty minutes. So it sat in this state for nine-and-a-half hours ...  
... but it didn't seem to do it any harm - there were air bubbles, and it was a nice loaf-shaped shape, which bodes rather well for bread, I think. So it went into a searing-hot dutch oven-type of arrangement, and emerged looking rather splendid, if I say so myself ...
... and got rather a good review ...
I'm regretting that I cut down the quantities because I thought that putting out three loaves all at once would be silly. I think I've got the timings straight now, so that I can get through the whole process in an evening, rather than the nearly 24 hours it took to get here.
So, thanks Paul!! Your instructions are excellent. Obviously, I'm not letting any of my sourdough near you until I've practiced a bit. Because I'm smitten with this whole business, now, you know ... 
In other news, Sweeney's school visits are done. The girls in the class boss him around about tidying up, the boys boss him around about how to play with things. His teacher seems the least bossy person on the scene, and, perversely, he takes total notice of her. He's crazy about reading - now that he's had a wee taste of it with his first couple of school books, he's mad for it anywhere. The manual for the new remote control is especially compelling right now.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

On Saturday Afternoons

Winter afternoons in my bedroom are beautiful. So I was looking forward to a spot of this for a few hours today, what with Music 101 on, and all ...
Instead, this happened ...
and then I just embraced it and we got through most of this cool plane ...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

(His) Favourite Things

What a mission this week was ...
  • Sweeney's preschool was flooded out and stayed closed for three days;
  • Sweeney's grandad spent three nights in hospital with severe bellyache;
  • Sweeney popped into work with me for 11.4 minutes and provided us all with visual confirmation of what Running Rampant actually means. Also Gleeful Shrieking and Telling Your Mother's Boss Secret Things About Her;
  • Consequently, the next day, Sweeney had a heap of quality-face-time with Joe and Harper;
  • We said to goodbye to John from No.20. The quality of street gossip is never going to recover;
  • Paths were swept and hosed;
  • Frank from No.21 popped over for a visit;
  • Rubbish was taken to the dump;
  • Delicious stroganoff was concocted and snorkelled down with delicious noodles. Take that, you annoying quantity of crisper-dwelling mushrooms and half-cups of wine left over from Sunday night dinners ...;
  • My hair kind of did what I wanted it to, most days;
  • Which was just as well, because a photo of me ended up in the paper. Turns out that more important than the Important Social Message I was imparting was the fact that I have an actual age, and semi-Vulcan eyebrows;
  • Lamb shanks as big as Sweeney's face, along with some awesome cauliflower curry and other stuff that didn't really match but still tasted amaaaaaazing, were served up for dinner with the W-Ds and M-Zs; and
  • The sun shone, the birds sang, the wind blew in rather a pleasant way, there was some insanely lovely full moon action ...
Sweeney scored a boogie board at the Dump Shop today, and a Spiderman toy. At that point, I noticed that he was wearing his full Spiderman outfit, and had been all day. Top marks for eyes, Ange.
Harper and Kimberley came for dinner, and, out of nowhere, Sweeney gave Harper custody of Pooh.
Just like that. His favourite, favourite of All the Favourites since he was ten weeks old. We even prop him up with us to let him enjoy us reading Winnie the Pooh at night better. Sweeney uses him as a pillow, half the time. Last night, when we got home at the ungodly hour of 9:45pm, and he was about three feet beyond knackered, the look of relief on his face as I plopped him into bed and he buried his head into Pooh's soft fur was just magic.
Spiderman is the New Favourite. I know this because he's taken his boogie board to bed, and is lying asleep on it, using Spiderman as his pillow.
*Note that the boys kindly selected Bert for Kimberley to play with, so she could feel all included and stop giving her own child The Rabbit ...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Good lord, I so often forget just how completely ace David Bowie was. I'm sure he's still ace, but I'm not bothered so much now. But I can't go past a good bit of Bowie / Eno / Visconti.
Peter Gabriel, too. I just watched videos of Heroes and Sledgehammer, is why I'm thinking of this.
In other news, I've been rearranging my bedroom. I read an article recently about the psychological harm it can cause children to grow up with hoarders and/or slobs, and as I watched Sweeney perch himself atop a teetering pile of (folded and clean - I'm not an animal) clothes on my bed to show me his new favourite book tonight, I decided that something had to give. Also, the fact that it's become a severe hassle to get to the other side of the bed to turn the lamp off in the morning because of all the crap I've just flung about the place. And I've been wanting to rearrange things in there for ages.
So I've done it, and it looks better. Threw out a bunch of clothes and other stuff I don't need, found my jandals, finally stowed Sweeney's artwork in a sensible, non-teetery fashion.
Which is not to say that there's not still a certain teeteriness to the atmosphere in there. Anything else would be unnatural ...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Sparkle Me

Oh yes, check out my bling. Sorry, it's a terrrrrible picture, but I don't know how to make the Finepix do justice to the new jewels.
Anyone who's ever actually seen Actual Me will know that this is not my usual style of earwear, but this is what Sweeney chose for me for Mother's Day. He asked me to wear them to work this morning, and was chuffed when I put them on.
I was chuffed that they didn't make my lobes swell up like septic watermelons, and after a little while, I quite liked that they made  a little jingly noise whenever I moved my head.
Like Santa in the distance, maybe ...
In other news, Sweeney had his first school visit on Friday. Frank from next door was there, and he made Sweeney welcome and showed him around. The class had mat time, did some colouring, had some free play, then we all tidied up and skedaddled home. I had a really good time playing with the medieval castle and the armies of knights.
Ah, school. Bring it on.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sometimes It Rains In April

See ya, April!! You were a pretty good month, not that I can remember terribly much in detail about you. Highlights include, but are not limited to:
  • kicked off the month with a fab weekend with ladies;
  • finished the month with two of those ladies, another one of my fave ladies, and their fine families;
  • saw Sweeney's grandad off for a sojourn in hippie paradise;
  • went to a party in an enormous, posh house in Khandallah. There was a pool table that kept Sweeney enthralled, and a table straining under the weight of its delicious drinks that kept me enthralled. And of course, the company ...;
  • got through Easter with only one truly horrific sugar frenzy. I blame Sweeney's Uncle Ben and Grandad O'Neill;
  • took a day off from the world;
  • Sweeney had two sleepovers at Harper's. I spent one of them watching Poirot and knitting. The other I spent oozing in and out of consciousness on the couch, notably missing both the Royal Wedding and the party I was supposed to be at to watch it. I blame the fully-enjoyable-but-fast-getting-out-of-control drinks frenzy I went to first;
  • encountered one of my more hilarious cousins and hung out with him and his ravishing wee girl. I particularly enjoyed how she got Sweeney's measure superfast - belting out his name whenever he removed himself from view, running everywhere with him;
  • turned out a bread and butter pudding in the slow cooker. I come from a bloodline of strenuously delicious bread and butter puddings. It was my first bread and butter pudding. Next time, I'll be sure to add some flavour;
  • watched (1) Exit Through the Gift Shop, (2) District 9 and (3) Baghead. (1) Loved it, (2) surprised myself by loving it, (3) surprised myself by hardly hating it at all;
  • spent not nearly enough time with pals, swam, went to the beach, ran and ran and ran, built lego, read stories, constructed a stunt car ramp out of toilet rolls;
  • made awesome dinners. Replaced some of them with baked beans, for my shorter, more philistine dinner companion's benefit; and
  • made some real inroads with my yoga and my running. Then went backwards for a bit. Am resolved to go forward some more ...
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