Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Giraffe!

Here's my latest crochet project, and surely the last one in 2010!
I want to improve it somewhat beforehand, but in the next couple of weeks I should be able to make the pattern available here on my blog.
Do tell me if you have any good ideas for a name for this little giraffe. I was thinking of "Stiggy", as it's a striped giraffe, but we're open to suggestions :-)

Easy peasy pancakes

Yes I know pancakes are never very difficult, but this recipe removes the need to measure out ingredients, and considerably reduces the amount of washing up at the end - always a good idea, in my opinion!  You will need:

1 mixing bowl
1 sieve
1 teacup
1 tablespoon
1 frying pan
1 whisk

Plain white flour
1 large egg or 2 small
light oil

Makes about eight big pancakes

I start this recipe by gently heating my frying pan on the hob. However, if you use gas it's probably better to heat the pan just before cooking the pancakes.

Using the teacup as a measure, sift two cupfuls of flour into the mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt, then break the egg(s) into the middle of the flour and start to mix with the whisk. Graduallly add 1 cupful of water, then 1 1/2 cupfuls of milk, mixing all the time so that you obtain a (hopefully) lump-free mixture. Now stir in one tablespoon of light oil (sunflower oil or similar).

Turn up the heat under the frying pan, add a little oil (I use a wedge of kitchen roll paper to spread it around the pan) and pour in about half a cup of pancake mixture, tilting the pan to spread it evenly around.

Leave it to cook for a few minutes. You can lift up the edge slightly with a fish slice or spatula to check if the first side is cooked and golden. Then flip it over and cook the other side for a few moments before sliding it onto a plate.

For the next pancake add a little more oil to your pan, and continue until you've used up all the mixture.

Eat with lemon and sugar, or honey and melted butter, or jam, or whatever takes your fancy.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

This time of year

I feel a bit guilty saying what I'm about to say, when I read the introduction to this blog. Yes I know, I said that it's better to do something other than watching TV.
BUT... the thing I like best about this time of year is that they show some really good films on the TV. There's lots of rubbish too, but here in France just this past week I've watched E.T. (my all-time favourite), The Secret Garden (in English!), Jane Eyre (cried buckets), and there are more to come. Tonight there's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, on Thursday a beautiful French film The Fox and the Child, and on Friday another French film called Two Brothers, about two baby tigers. That's about it, and then on Monday it's back to work!
I am doing other things too - some sewing, some crochet, some cooking, some ironing, even. And spending some quality time with my family, though mostly indoors because it's still grey and frozen outside. My soon to be 14-year-old son now knows how to make tuna and egg filo rolls, and I've promised him he'll know how to bake croissants before the week's out.
I'll try to get back soon, with some pics of my latest creations. Bye for now!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend about owls. She said her daughter collected them, and I thought about making some. A couple of doodles later, and a delve into my felt stash, and here's what I made. It's a little felt owl brooch.  It was great fun to make, so I decided to make some more. This time the owls came out a bit wider; I trimmed them with some ribbon, embroidered the beaks and used press-studs for the eyes. Then I bought some pretty faceted beads and some lace trim from the market. For the later models, I added a tiny bit of polyester stuffing.
In all, up to now I have made nine owls, I have sold    five of them (including all of those pictured here ) and given one away. They are about two inches "tall" and I must say they are very cute. My favourite one is the little orange one with the white lace trim - it looks like an owl in a petticoat!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The world is full of garbage

I often wonder how future generations will survive on this earth. And if they do, what will they think of us?

The world is full of garbage. Literally. Every day we create more and more garbage. On an indivdual level; we throw out 400 kg per person per year. Well, that's the quantity for France. The average American produces 900 kg of waste, while in Senegal the amount is only 170 kg. Basically, the richer you are, the more you throw away.

Talking about recycling is fine, we are all full of good intentions. But some things can't be recycled. And some people simply don't bother. Most of all, we've done too little, too late.

The plastic that we dispose of every day is ending up in the oceans. Sea birds are found with their stomachs full of plastic. Turtles die from eating plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish. In the Pacific ocean, there is a huge "plastic stew" that covers an area the size of a continent. It contains around 100 million tonnes of plastic!

In Lebanon, there is a mountain of garbage that's 50 metres high and 375 metres long. As it's situated on the coast, it regularly collapses and falls into the sea.

That's not all. I recently read an article in New Scientist about the over 8,500 vessels that were sunk during World War II and that are so many timebombs. They are spread all over the world, and contain somewhere between 2.5 and 20 million tonnes of oil. And that oil is starting to leak. The first leak happened in 2001 when a typhoon hit one of the areas where a military oil tanker had sunk in 1944. For the rest of the vessels, it's just a matter of time. The steel plate they are made of is gradually corroding, and nobody is doing anything about it.

What can we do? Not much. We can continue to recycle. We can stop buying plastic. We can lobby our governments to do something about pollution. Let's just hope our children and our children's children will find a way to clear up the mess we have left behind.

Monday, 6 December 2010


Well today we had scones for breakfast. They are, along with scotch pancakes, the easiest and quickest breakfast treats. I have got it down to a fine art:  turn on the oven first, then by the time you've prepared the scones the oven is warm enough, and once they're in the oven, lay the table and make the tea. In theory, everything will be ready in time for breakfast!

You will need:

225g white flour
1 sachet baking powder
40g butter (at room temperature)
150ml milk
2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt

a mixing bowl
a metal tablespoon
a round fluted pastry-cutter
a rolling pin

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl, rub in the butter with your fingertips.
Stir in the sugar, then add the milk little by little, using the metal tablespoon. Finish off with your hands, kneading it together gently to a soft dough (you might not need all the milk).
Roll the dough out on to a floured surface, but keep it thick (around 2 cm).
Use the pastry cutter to cut out your scones. Be careful to tap it straight down, don't twist it or your scones will have a strange shape.
Place the scones on a lined baking sheet, place in the oven for about 12 minutes, until they are crisp and golden.

I like to eat them as is, but you can add butter, jam, clotted cream... If you have any left over, freeze them straight away because they quickly go stale.