Monday, February 27

{ my february }

One more day of February to go.  A month of wonderful contradictions;  snow showers, spring flowers, gloomy days, rainbow days, happy days, not so happy days.  If January felt a quiet month, then the silence of February has been truly deadening, and at times I've felt, almost, hermit like in my contentment to stay home.  I'm sure this will change once Spring starts to show her face, if only to entice me out into the garden, to tidy away the Winter weeds and to make plans of flowers, fruit and vegetables to grow.  

But, that will not be for a little while yet, so back to the sweetly short month of February.

{ buying }
I can't resist the small bunches of tulips and daffodils on my local flower stall.  Not too expensive, they've become an affordable, weekly treat.  Buying the tightly budded daffodils and watching them bloom overnight, they never fail to make me smile as they greet me in my office each morning.  Their season may be short but sweet and I'll be making the most of it whilst it lasts.

{ baking }
Whilst there might be signs of Spring in those beautiful blooms, in reality the wind, rain, storms Doris & Ewan, are a reminder that it is still Winter.  And that has been reflected in this month's baking and cooking.  Soups are still my go-to lunch, particularly when there's a homemade loaf of bread in the pantry.  My favourite this month has been a Roasted Tomato Soup, Colm's Soup, from What Katie Ate.  Tomato's are roasted with slivers of garlic and a slight sheen of olive oil, for a couple of hours, filling the house with a wonderful aroma, and you will be tempted to skip the soup and just pile those tomato's on slices of toasted sourdough for a wonderfully simple bruschetta.  So, roast a few extra and enjoy that bruschetta whilst your soup slowly simmers for another hour or so, then enjoy your soup, topped, as Katie suggests, with { a few more } slices of sourdough, topped with slices of goat's cheese.  Comfort food, that also counts as a few of your five { or is it ten now ? } a day.

Speaking of comfort food, a surfeit of bread, left over from some meditative bread making, led me to make some mini bread & butter puddings for this month's Bumpkin Betty Baking Club.  Topped with a slice of blush orange, that caramelised wonderfully in the oven, they were then drowned in home made custard.  A proper pudding to make you feel all warm & fuzzy inside.  In balance to this mini indulgence, I'm still enjoying an equally comforting, and slightly healthier, bowl of porridge most mornings.  I think I will forever be grateful to whoever decided that porridge deserved to be pimped with a myriad of toppings.  Amongst my favourites this month, a seasonal baked pear, on top of cinnamon spiced oats, with a good dollop of greek yogurt and a scattering of chopped pistachios.

{ reading }
Continuing my reading of Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries, whose marmalade making partly inspired the addition of oranges to my mini bread puddings, and whose virtuous stew of mushrooms and spelt made me feel I could justify the said mini bread pudding.  I've several more February recipes bookmarked to try as soon as I can, particularly his recipe for Butter Beans with Mustard & Tomato, eager to see if this can better my current go-to baked bean recipe.

I finished "Tony and Susan", though after a good start, I felt it floundered in the middle, and for the first time I preferred the film over the book.  Happily, I'm now reading "The Green Road" by Anne Enright, one of those books that you carry everywhere, hoping to find a quiet few minutes to read a little more.  The story of an Irish family, a fractured family, their individual  and collective stories, as they are scattered around the world, then brought back together by the selling of their family home. 

{ visiting }
Despite my hermit tendencies this month, there have been a couple of notable outings, both involving cake.  I think I have proven my love of cake, with the battling through Storm Doris, to make a return visit to H&F Vintage Tearooms in Chesterfield.  Luckily this gem of a tearoom is a convenient half way point between a friend and I, and has now become our regular meeting spot.  The fact that it has the most amazing cake selection is a wonderful added bonus.  You can read my review of the tearoom over on The Clandestine Cake Club, along with a few more tempting pictures of cake, afternoon tea, and all other sorts of loveliness.

And speaking of The Clandestine Cake Club, this was my other outing of the month.  My first as host of the Birmingham group, and held at the Creative Coffee Hub.  As with every other cake club event I've been to, it was a lovely couple of hours of cake, coffee, and lots of chit chat, and a general sense of putting the world to rights.  A medley of sweet inspired cakes saw a table heaving with Lemon Sherbet, Rhubarb and Custard, Cadbury Caramel, Crunchie, Jelly Baby and Liquorice cakes.  A lovely afternoon, but I'm thinking perhaps my March outings should be to something a little healthier, or at least something that feeds my soul, rather than my tummy.

Make the most of the last days of February.  I will be curled up on the sofa finishing my book and plotting those, slightly more healthy and soulful, March outings.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, February 24

{ happy friday }

{ 1 } The prettiest stamps.  For the prettiest mail by Vintage Postage Shop.
{ 2 } The prettiest faffing.  Behind the scenes at Bob&Blossom.
{ 3 } The coolest boyswear.  New season's collection from Morley.
{ 4 } ♥︎ The dress.
{ 6 } ♥︎ The skirt.
{ 8 } Here's to the ones who dream { of a Best Movie Oscar }.  Good luck La La Land.
{ 9 } I Spy one little red nose hiding in this pretty flatlay.  Mollie Makes Crafternoon is coming.
{ + } Next Tuesday, embrace Sweden's Fat Tuesday with these cardamom scented Semlor Buns.

{ have a happy day }

Thursday, February 23

{ mini blush orange bread & butter puddings }

I've been on a bit of a bread making mission just lately.  I think it's the therapeutic nature of the time spent kneading the dough that I like, more than actually needing a new loaf of bread baked each day.  Consequently I find myself with more bread than I could possibly eat, and one particular sorry looking, slightly overdone, now going slightly stale loaf.  As I hate wasting things, particularly food, I started wondering what use I could find for this.  The more mundane thought of blitzing the whole lot for breadcrumbs for the freezer was pushed to one side, in favour of a more indulgent bread & butter pudding;  indulgent, but made mini sized, which just so happens to be this months theme for Bumpkin Betty's baking club { coincidence, I think not ! }.

To further aid my 'Love Food Hate Waste' mantra, I spotted a lonesome blush orange in the fruit bowl, and thought how lovely it would be to include this - think marmalade on toast, in pudding format!

This is the perfect way to use up odds and ends of many baked goods, as croissants & brioche also work beautifully in bread & butter puddings too.  These mini versions are baked in a cupcake tin, making perfect individual sized portions, perfect if you are still trying to maintain a little restraint after Xmas indulgences.

Please forgive the slightly less than gorgeous 'after' images.  I'd left it a little too late in the day to start & the best of the light had gone by the time they'd baked.  And I promise it had nothing to do with the fact I couldn't resist tasting one { or two } as soon as they came out of the oven.  No, absolutely nothing to do with that at all!

Is there anything better than a proper pudding on a grey & rainy day?  And the fact that it's mini sized makes me feel just a little bit better about drowning it in a proper homemade, creamy, vanilla flecked custard.

If you would like to take a look at this month's other mini bakes, pop on over to Bumpkin Betty's Facebook page, where you can also sign up & join in the baking { and eating } fun.

{ have a happy day }

Tuesday, February 21

{ miffy & me }

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Last week I read the news that Dick Bruna had died.  He was the creator of a little white rabbit, originally named Nijntje, who became more commonly known as Miffy.  A bunny drawn in a starkly modernist form, always white, with a painted black outline, with pops of stark primary colours;  red, blue, green and yellow.  She's remained virtually unchanged, with only subtle improvements made by Bruna himself.  As he says himself, "It seems a little bit silly, but I find it very hard to do even Miffy.  I've done so many drawings of her, but every day I try to do it a little better than yeserday."

The first two books, "Miffy" and "Miffy at the Zoo", were published in 1955, with Bruna having written & illustrated more than 120 titles by the time of his death, and having sold more than 85 millions books, translated into more than 50 languages.  The simplicity of the character, and her timeless quality, are driving factors in her popularity.  Whilst Miffy now graces more than just books, every product has the same quality & stylistic cool as Bruna's illustrations.

Reading the many obituary's written about Dick Bruna, and articles written whilst he was still alive, you have an image of a gentle, quiet man.  He is described as unassuming, living a simple life, marked by a love of routine;  from his early morning cycle along the canals of Utrecht, coffee at the same cafe, to the picture he drew for his wife every day.  He admitted to being slightly perplexed by the success of Miffy, "When I see children, I think, yes, that is wonderful, but then I just come to the studio and do my work like everybody else.  Of course I'm happy that Miffy became quite famous, but if she hand't I would have carried on working just the same."

Bruna retired in 2014 and announced that the rights to Miffy would not be sold.  Happily, she will continue through all those wonderfully drawn books.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, February 17

{ happy friday }

{ 1 } Zara Spring Collection.  Beautifully styled by Babiekins.
{ 2 } Denim & rainbow silk. Beautifully designed by Molo & Chloe
{ 3 } A little more darling denim.  Beautifully designed by Country Road.
{ 4 } Toast Spring Collection.  I want it all!
{ 5 } Beautiful pottery from Burleigh.  Buy & fill with Spring flowers.
{ 6 } I love a girl who matches her baking with her flowers.  Lemon cupcakes & daffs 💛
{ 7 } If the running away to the circus doesn't work out, I'm running away here instead.
{ 8 } Always do things that make you happy.
{ 9 } Beautiful Mid Century florals from *whispers* Sainsburys. In store now.
{ + } These have been popping up on my Facebook feed all week.  Chocolate Crumpets.
........ Still deciding if this sounds scrumptious or just silly!

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, February 15

{ Goodbye, she said, I'm off to join the Circus }

centre // 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

One of the many things on my fifty before 50 list is to fly on the trapeze { with the greatest of ease - though I think that last bit might be pushing it a little }.  I've been spending a little time looking into this, and with great delight have found numerous Circus Schools, up and down the country, that can facilitate this *cue enormous excitement & a great deal of squealing*.  The whole notion of a circus continues to have a mysterious romance about it, possibly due to my reading of novels such as Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and the completely wonderful The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I'm sure that the reality bears no relation to my vivid imaginings, but a girl can dream can't she?  Luckily, even if running away and joining a circus isn't on the horizon for a little while, you can still indulge in some circus inspired prettiness.  Perfect for turning your Little Ones room into a mini circus all of their own, and outfitting them with a wardrobe that would put any trapeze artist to shame.

{  have a happy day }

Monday, February 13

{ love, cake, candy & cocktails . twelve sweet treats to make this Valentine's Day }

As Valentine's Day is tomorrow, I'm assuming { hoping & praying } that if you have a special someone you've bought the card, ordered the flowers, wrapped the gift.  But maybe now you're looking for that extra something, something to bring an added sweet something.  Or maybe you haven't bought the card ordered the flowers, wrapped a gift, and are looking for that last minute something to rescue the day from complete disaster?  Here are few sweet somethings that you still have time to bake and make.  Failing that, just scroll right to the bottom and head for the drinks shelf to mix up a love potion or two!

{ have a sweet day }

Saturday, February 11

{ happy weekend }

{ 1 } ♥︎ pink roses.
{ 2 } ♥︎ paper hearts.
{ 3 } ♥︎ little bears.
{ 4 } ♥︎ colourful rooms.
{ 5 } ♥︎ perfect pins.
{ 6 } ♥︎ beautiful books.
{ 7 } ♥︎ cute bookmarks.
{ 8 } ♥︎ we came. we saw. we loved.
{ 9 } ♥︎ sweet cookies.
{ + } ♥︎ steamed puds. { especially on snowy days }

. have a l♥︎vely day .

Friday, February 3

{ happy friday }

{ 1 } feeling a lot of love for this #shelfie. from the ever fabulous Fabulous Places.
{ 2 } feeling a lot of love for Betsy Hare. stitched by hand by Thicket & Thimble.
{ 3 } would be feeling very cosy in this Roxy dress. pattern by Knitting for Olive
{ 4 } how gorgeous is this darkly cosy bedroom? and the rest of Niina's blog is gorgeous too.
{ 5 } a little reminder that Valentine's Day draws ever closer.  are you feeling the love yet?
{ 6 } still lusting after anything knitted & cosy.  Yes, Nolita Sweater, I'm talking about you!
{ 7 } another talented new discovery this week.  Clare Owen Illustrations.  #love.
{ 9 } if you love to sew, sign up to the VeryBerryHandmade hoop swap by Midnight tonight.
{ + } my weekend pick me up. Espresso Caramel BabyCakes #yum.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, February 1

{ hello February }

{ hello February }

. have a lovely day .