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It seems like yesterday that I had a bump... where has the time gone?
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Female flowers flowering.  As you do.

Pretty flowers on the squash plants turn into...

Biggest butternut squash so far...

This squash is about 20cm long just now. In case you couldn't tell, I'm tremendously proud of it.

Today we sprayed a few more fence panels and I sprayed some of the weeds--well, collection of feral fruit bushes--with some mega weedkiller. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get the ground cleared by autumn and be able to dig it over in preparation for making some raised beds and little paths around them.

Dave's dad thinks that I'm mad for growing veggies I can get at the supermarket with minimal effort and will be far cheaper than the cost of growing yourself. He has a valid point, especially as he's a gardener. However, I'm thinking of growing things (next year) that I can't get. Fresh borlotti beans, golden beetroot, borage, lemon verbena, yellow courgettes. We'll see, though. I may completely fall out of love with vegetable growing!

If the worst comes to the worst... then at least I'll have cleared out the weeds in a third of the garden :P
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Today is our fifth wedding anniversary! It really doesn't feel like five years already. I guess time flies when you're having fun!

Happy anniversary, babe!
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Take some strawberry soup, a scoop of honey frozen yoghurt, some beautifully ripe berries and a sprinkling of sparkly strawberry granita.

...you now have heaven in a bowl.

Life is good. I haven't heard anything further from the eye hospital--thank-you all for your comments, btw--but I'm trying not to stress about it. Sublime fruit desserts are helping a lot ;)

Lucas and I went to the zoo this morning and were lucky enough to see a huge fruitbat swooping around its enclosure above us. Lucas immediately pointed and said, "Bat! Bat! Batman!" I'm so proud :D If you ask him to, he'll happily sing you the 60s Batman theme.
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Ahh... fame at last. Well, not really.

The director of the cookery school I took a course at in February stumbled across my review of the course and I now find myself adorning the front page of their website. (Thank goodness I put up a half-decent picture of myself!)

In other foodie news, my first foray into curing meat seems to have worked. I am now the proud owner/mama of about a kilo of pancetta. Next stop... smoked bacon if I can find some maple or hickory chips.

What else? Oh, I somehow landed a job of sorts. I am now an editor for a British comics company. Alas, unpaid at present, but it's something for the CV and it's just nice to stretch my brain again.

Lucas is growing like a weed just now. His vocabulary is also expanding rapidly, which is pretty cool. We're starting to get sentences, although they do mainly revolve around cars, buses, lorries, vans or bikes. He likes nothing better than a drive down the motorway!


Lucas at the beach last weekend.
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Lately I've been doing some proofreading and light editing for a friend and also a magazine and it's really revived my interest in forging a career in editing. Ideally I'd love to combine editing with my love for comics, but I quite like whipping any sort of writing into shape. There are some lovely jobs out there just now. Hopefully similar ones will be around when I go back to work properly in a few years!

In other news, Lucas now knows how to open the safety gate downstairs, the front door (!!!) and his bedroom door. Far too clever for his own good. He also does a great job of differentiating between single- and double-decker buses, regular cars and SUVs etc. We had great fun playing football in the park earlier on

In even further news, Dave and I have started our own comics podcast. As we both read trades rather than floppies, we're behind the majority of the comic-reading universe. So, we thought we'd start a podcast for trade readers by trade readers, called--stroke of genius here--Waiting for the trade. If you're into comics, Doctor Who, or other random geeky stuff, then give us a whirl!

We can be found at http://wftt.libsyn.com/ or you can download us directly from iTunes :)
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Today we had my birthday lunch at The Fat Duck.

OMG!! So absolutely, amazingly awesome. I'd go back tomorrow if I could :D We did take pics, so I shall blog about it once I've finished hugging myself with glee and excitement.

Huge smooches to Dave for such a perfectly-Ang birthday present!!!
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I've just been out in the garden planting garlic :D

They may never grow--supermarket garlic is apparently unreliable as compared to the stuff you get from garden centres, but then they would say that, wouldn't they?--but I shall have at least tried.

Dave bought me a copy of Jamie At Home, which walks a fine line between being a cookbook and a gardening manual, and now I find myself eyeing up the garden and wondering where I can put plants.

I doubt I ever will. I still get mildly freaked out at the prospect of walking over crickets--wtf are crickets doing in England, anyway?--to get to the bottom of the garden :P I'm a bit of a wildlife wimp.

Still, it's nice to dream... In my dream garden there is a big rhubarb crown, leeks, onions, a big patch of squash/pumpkins, and plenty of potatoes. I've already got plums and apples and since all my strawberries got eaten by birds last year I'm not enthused to plant any more.

But anyway, garlic! Hopefully in six months time I'll be busily braiding bulbs of garlic together.
allana: (narnia)
To celebrate the beginning of a new year, here's a cute video of Lucas riding on his incredibly noisy quad bike. (You can't move for beeping, tooting or talking toys in this house just now. Love it!)



There is also a bonus embarrassing parent commentary/voice-over. I never realised how broadly Scottish I sound--why do so many people ask me what state--in America--I come from? Feel free to have a good laugh at our silliness :)

Tomorrow we get to meet GG and M's little boy Ewan for the first time! He's six months old, and hopefully isn't too wriggly as I plan to give him lots and lots of cuddles. GG and M will have to chase Lucas around to collect all of their cuddles. Still, there's two of them, so they can corner him ;)

Anyway, happy New Year everyone! I hope it brings you all loads of good things....
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You can tell it's Christmas around here. Everyone's gone absolutely bonkers for food. (I do have to include myself in this as I was at the shops at 7am this morning.) There isn't much Christmas spirit going on in the meat aisle with everyone fighting over turkeys, and it's practically baguettes at dawn in the bread aisles!

There is a bit more Christmas spirit in our road though. Someone has just very kindly returned our paper recycling bag which blew away while I was out this morning. That's saved me a phonecall to the council and probably about £5 for a new one. Hooray!

I have a busy day ahead of me. I need to make both starter and dessert for our Boxing Day meal. I've made a good start on Project Pud and Lucas and I are watching a Thomas the Tank Engine film while we're waiting for things to cool.

Speaking of Lucas, did I mention that he's very clever?

On Thursday he took two steps, on Friday he took four, and yesterday he had a very long walk and took 11 steps! I reckon we're a week away from having a toddler on our hands... He's also started spoon-feeding himself a bit, too. I think he's looking forward to Christmas. He definitely likes the tree--pop-up trees rule!--and he loves the string of LED train lights that his uncle Ant bought him. I'm pretty sure that he'd be investigating the present pile if I was foolish enough to put it on the floor.
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It's entirely possible that I may pop with excitement.

I've just managed to book a table for two at The Fat Duck for my birthday in January! No mean feat, I can assure you. I am so glad that phones come with a redial button these days otherwise I'd be a nervous wreck by now.

Five minutes of constantly hitting redial to get into the queue for the reservations line. Especially galling as I got straight through at 0959 and then the dumped my call as it wasn't 1000! (Well, more charitably, they could just have hit the wrong button....)

And! This weekend we're having a day out at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham--without Lucas, so we can potter around and see everything without a bored little boy in tow--and I'll be mere feet away from Gordon Ramsay while he cooks! (I have promised not to throw my knickers at him.)

Hopefully I'll come back with some fab goodies and maybe a knife or two. I quite fancy trying out a Global knife or if I can stretch to it, maybe a Wüsthof. I have also just discovered why our knives are blunting so quickly--my funky glass chopping board. I think I'll be retiring that ASAP, so I should probably pick up a couple of plastic ones at the show too...

I am a very, very lucky girl.
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Hooray! I've finally managed to get LJ to update the RSS feed details for [livejournal.com profile] spoonful_sugar, so if you had that feed on your flist you can now happily re-add it.

There's New Content and I'm also planning to add some seasonal features....
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This may be the best dish I have ever made. Picture this:

Roasted butternut squash tortelli and proscuttio-wrapped chicken breasts, sauced with sage brown butter.

Gorgeously sweet--and slightly smokey--squash puree, wrapped around fresh pasta balanced by crisp salty proscuttio and juicy chicken, all married together by crisp slivers of sage.

Seriously good stuff. I just hope the photos turned out okay....
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I just fed the Christmas cake some brandy. My god... it smells absolutely awesome! I can't wait to taste it :D

In other news, I lost 4lb this week. No doubt I won't lose anything next week, but it's still pretty damn impressive when you consider what a mega-dose of appetite increasing--and metabolism fucking-up--steroids I'm on. There's also an awful lot to be said for home-cooking every night this week.

Here's hoping that I'll be slipping into a size smaller dress for Dave's work Christmas do!
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Today has been pretty awesome.

For ages we've been saying that we should shop more at farm shops, especially after we went to the Bristol Organic Food Festival earlier in the year. And today we finally did!

Call me odd, but I can't help but feel warm and fuzzy when I pick up a bunch of carrots--fluffy green tops still attached--and pop them into a nice sturdy basket. Virtuously putting knobbly little potatoes into a brown paper bag comes a close second, though.

This was by far the best farm shop I've ever been to. Loads of choice (although I was sad that they didn't have any normal sized onions), well laid out, and the shelves were positively groaning with goodies. Even something as simple as milk looks better than the usual supermarket fare--the whole milk that we bought for Lucas has a gorgeous buttery yellow colour which bodes well for his Weetabix in the morning.

I'm really excited to see how the produce performs over the week. Tonight we had Chicken Tikka Masala with saffron rice--low fat but you'd never know it--and tomorrow we're feasting on Beef Stifado with Rosemary Roast Potatoes which Lucas will share for the first time. I made the stifado this afternoon so that it can steep in delicious goodness overnight. I haven't tasted it yet, but I already know that it'll be amazing. The beef was just so good. You'd have been hard pressed to separate it from venison in terms of colour--seriously well hung meat.

Over the rest of the week I'm going to braise some of the plump spicy pork sausages we got from the butchers counter with lentils and winter veg, toss together beef chimichangas, make a huge vat of my favourite tomato sauce and loads of other yummy stuff.

It's so good to be cooking again :D I can't quite believe how energised and enthusiastic I feel after pottering around the shop for half an hour. I've got all these ideas buzzing around in my head. Heck, I might even update my food blog :P
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Mummy duck said "Quack-quack-quack quack!!"

Duck became an unfortunate casualty of nine healthy appetites )
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After much debate, I've finally settled on Lucas's first birthday cake design...

It's going to be a duck cake! A la the "Five little ducks" song :D There'll be a big mummy duck, and five little rubber ducks--if I can find some, that is--and I'll even take the time to roll out some blue icing onto the cake board to turn it into a pond.

I can't wait to see his face! He loves ducks.
allana: (snoopy dance)
DIY is fun!

I've spent the afternoon sanding down and preparing an old table for it's new starring role as a TV stand in our bedroom. It needed a lot of TLC as the varnish was chipped, cracked and peeling in places. There were also rather a lot of water rings and random marks. All gone now!

Two hours of conscientious sanding later and it was beautifully smooth to the touch :D I've just finished off the first coat of dark mahogany varnish and it already looks fab. I reckon it'll take another two coats of varnish to match the chest of drawers/bedside tables upstairs.

By Monday night I should be able to move all the TV gubbins over to the nice and shiny table and get rid of the old faux-pine unit. Huzzah!
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Another disappointing Doctor Who. Still rumour has it that RTD won't be writing for the show in season 4, so that's a ray of hope.

Oh, I finally remembered the other cool thing from last week's episode: the long-forgotten Cloister Bell. Such a blast from the past! (Although Wiki tells me that it was heard in a Children in Need special as well as the movie. Can't say I recall, but I have tried to blank out the movie....)

--
Dave lowered the mattress height on Lucas's cot today as he's making determined efforts to climb out. Now I can stop listening out for thud-pause-scream noises from his room. It does remind me that he's growing up fast, though.

I need to start thinking about his birthday present (eek!) and Christmas, too, now that he'll appreciate it more. So scary!
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So, am I the only person--aside from Dave--who thought that Dr Who 3x12 was appalling? Aint' It Cool News is gushing about it, all of LJ appears to be squeeing and flailing about it... and it was horrendously awful.

The best part of the episode was the correct usage of decimation.

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