Apr 242014


I am documenting the year with monthly photographs of my kitchen table. Capturing the jumble that accumulates here, at the heart of the kitchen, is also a way to record some of the domestic stories of our family life.

April has flown by! Once again, this moment captured was a quiet one, with a cup of tea. This teacup and saucer comes from a set of three with jug, which I picked up at a car boot sale at my old secondary school, when the eldest boy was a babe. It’s the prettiest patterned china that I own, and when I moved it off the dresser to make space for our Osterbaum, I just had to pour myself a cuppa in it.

The Kilner jar with the yellow label feels like the sixth member of the family- it’s my pampered sourdough starter, given to me by Tom Herbert and still very much alive, I’m pleased to say. My commitment to the #52loavesproject has only deepened over time. I love the camaraderie with my fellow bakers and am amazed at my developing skills and the way in which the confidence to regularly bake bread has subtly altered the very fabric of our family life. I’m generally baking a couple of loaves a week at the moment and my latest sourdough loaf was pretty much perfect, I just hope that I can recreate it! The orange 1984 notebook is my dedicated bread-making notebook, where I write down the details of every bake: proving time, water temperature, oven temperature. It’s pretty geeky, but it really helps with the learning process, and my loaves have definitely improved as a result.

As a vase, I use a Horlicks mixing glass, inherited from my Granny. Rather marvellously, it comes with a plunger, not unlike a cafetiere! I have yet to make Horlicks in it, however. Lilacs are some of my very favourite flowers, and my joy at having a lilac tree in our garden is unbounded; having spent many years scrumping sprigs over walls, I can now pick lilac to my heart’s content. It smells divine, and I am reminded, as I am every year, of the T.S. Eliot poem, Portrait of a Lady: 

‘Now that the lilacs are in bloom

She has a bowl of lilacs in her room

And twists one in her fingers while she talks’

As for the coloured knitting needles, well, I cannot see a pair in a charity shop without buying them for my collection. I don’t actually knit with them, preferring to use metal or wooden needles, but there is something so very cheerful about their brightness and the way that they jumble together in the jar that I keep on my shelf. The brooch, a Mother’s Day present from the boys a few years ago, came from Howkapow and was made using cross sections of plastic needles just like these. I love its colourful constellation.

Lilac, green, lemon and orange : the April table.

The kitchen story so far:

{the January table}

{the February table}

{the March table}

 April 24, 2014  on the table 1 Response »
Apr 212014

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

coffee & croissants




shadows on the path

These last few weeks have been tough. The baby has been suffering with a bout of eczema, which left me tired and grumpy after nursing him through endless broken nights in which he cried and scratched. His sleeplessness meant that my evenings have been whittled away, and with them, the precious quiet moments. I have sleepwalked through the hazy days.

Thankfully, the little one is feeling much better, and the long weekend has been a welcome chance to recuperate. On Saturday, my mister, the baby, and I left the bigger boys with their grandparents for the morning. After a visit to a friend, we went to see the Hockney exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery.  In the hushed quiet of the gallery, we became absorbed in the prints and in our own thoughts. Afterwards, a coffee on the lawn and an uninterrupted conversation, whilst the baby happily people-watched. A morning of blossom and dappled shadows with my sweetheart and my smallest one: a welcome respite from the daily chaos.


Apr 172014

Easter Biscuits :: Circle of Pine Trees

Making Easter Biscuits :: Circle of Pine Trees

Easter Biscuits :: Circle of Pine Trees

Easter Biscuits :: Circle of Pine Trees

The Easter weekend is a bumper time for baking. There are so many lovely treats at this time of year. I’ve been baking Hot Cross Buns for a few years now, with limited success but since my Hobbs House masterclass, I am infinitely more confident when it comes to baking bread. This year, as one of my #52loavesproject bakes, I followed the Baker Brothers’ recipe, and ended up with a batch of buns to be proud of!

On Easter Sunday, I usually indulge in a chocolate nest cake, but in the days beforehand, it’s good to have some Easter biscuits in the tin, ready to be nibbled with a cup of tea. Buoyed by my hot cross bun success, I used the Easter biscuit recipe from the Fabulous Baker Brothers book. It’s a beautifully simple recipe, made using the traditional Cassia oil (although you can substitute mixed spice). Crumbly, buttery, currant-studded, with a caster sugar crunch. Most of this batch went with us on a picnic, to be eaten from an enamel plate, on a blanket, in a field of dandelions. What could be more perfectly spring-like than that?


 April 17, 2014  a cake for the weekend, baking Tagged with: ,  9 Responses »
Apr 082014

Now that school has broken up for the Easter holidays, the house is filled once again with a busy, noisy, mess of children. We are glorying in the relaxed mornings, some of us (not me, for the record!) staying in pyjamas all day long. I am watching with pleasure the relationships between the boys, always evolving, particularly now that the littlest one is crawling and can spot a piece of Lego from the other side of the room. His brothers are very patient with him, lavishing him with encouragement, even as they build a barricade of sofa cushions to protect themselves.

Blogging and writing work must be laid aside, ready to be resumed once routine returns. In the meantime, we shall be: decorating our osterbaum; baking biscuits; making trips to the park; meeting up with oldest friends; walking in the woods; making wild garlic pesto; reading library books; visiting museums; getting our craft on; visiting family and, of course, hunting for chocolate eggs.

See you on the other side…



 April 8, 2014  family life 8 Responses »