Friday, May 28, 2010

Augustus And His Smile

I don't know if is actually illegal to photograph a book and blog about it, so please tell me if this is dodgy and I'll remove it. I have a friend that illustrates books wonderfully and I would hate to think of taking anything away from an illustrator's hard work!

I just wanted to say something about a book the Bean has from the library at the moment. It is Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner.

The pictures in it are just beautiful...and the tiger Augustus just has 'essence of cat' - look at this lovely stretch:

And this page I would frame and put on my wall if I could:

Strawberries and the promise of good things to come

I have been talking for a while about doing something better with the strawberries this year. Last year I didn't get a single taste as the Bean was out every day eating them the moment they were vaguely red so this year I am keeping a beady eye on them. We had a load of plain pots from a previous project so we painted them up using our stock of tester pots I use for all the wall paintings and I think they look pretty good.

I stuck one of the seedling shelf units from the greenhouse by our shed and they now look quite happy. It's pretty shaded which is good because they don't need as much water but I'm not sure how they will perform so they may be moved later.

These are a couple of the Beans old boots put to good use.

I love it when things blossom because you know good things are on the way! These are not just apples, people, but DISCOVERY APPLES...the greatest variety every and I can't wait to see if they make it through the June drop.

And these are some of our plums that survived the frost.

Stencilling t-shirts

While I really should have been up to BeanPi business today I got distracted as my Mum had bought the Bean some new t-shirts. They were lovely colours but plain so I saw it as an ideal opportunity to do some stencils for my girl! She loves butterflies and turtles at the moment so the subject matter wasn't hard to choose.

I learned that tiny hibiscus flowers are hard to cut out. And this was my first attempt at graduating colours with fabric paint. As you may have noticed I only have two colours at the moment, but hey fabric paint is not cheap and I will build up my collection slowly. But I'm pleased with the results!

Eat This! - Flapjacks

Flapjacks, flapjacks, how marvellous you are. Actually for some time I thought flapjacks were rather inferior, but D was spending money buying them on his way home from work and I thought 'I bet I can make better ones than those'. It took a bit of experimentation to get the timing right but now we have a lovely squidgey texture and it is full of fruit so definitely should feature as one of your 5 a day. So here is my recipe (it is adapted from a recipe in The Dairy Book of Home Cookery: new edition for the 90s, which is fabulous for this sort of thing)...
100g butter
75g golden syrup
75g brown sugar
225g oats
2 bananas
large handfull of chopped apricots
large handfull of sultanas
handfull of desicated coconut
large chocolate bar
Put butter, syrup, mashed bananas and sugar in a bowl and melt together in the microwave (2 mins or so)
Combine dry ingredients and add sugary goodness to them. Mix well
Spread into a greased lined microwave-safe receptacle.
Cook in the microwave for 2.5 minutes. Stand for 1 minute then cook for another 2 minutes. Squish down the mixture with a spoon.
And now my favourite bit. Break the chocolate into pieces and put them on top of the flapjacks. Leave for 5-10mins then give them a swirl.

This will then take ages to set. Far longer than you will be able to wait to taste them so be prepared for a gooey mess.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Hello and welcome to Tanushree (or Baby Nushree as Anneli has taken to calling her). How cute is she?

First child of my very good friends Av and Ruchi, and possibly the loveliest little thing I have seen in a while! She makes my babies look huge!

She also was the recipient of BeanPi's first foray into baby toys. A happy tag sun with a couple of bells inside for fun.

Best cupcakes ever?

As I mentioned previously I decided to do cupcakes for Juno's birthday this year. I have become a little tiny bit obsessed with them, and the fact that our local poundland has silicone cupcake cases 6 for a pound really sealed the deal. I went for 3 varieties: vanilla chocolate chip with white chocolate icing, double chocolate, and carrot and honey with lemon icing.

Boy oh boy were the carrot ones good. Thanks for the recipe Sally! I used a syringe to inject honey after they were cooked and they turned beautifully. I may have been slightly heavy-handed with the food colouring, though.

I do have to admit it is the first time I have made a cake and had no urge to eat the uncooked batter though. In this case it looked almost exactly like vomit. Next time I might add raisins to them, and maybe try with my traditional icing for carrot cake (maple syrup butter icing, yum!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We have so many dandelions on the green outside our house we just can't keep up with them. I have sacrificed my lawn for the joy the Bean gets out of blowing the clocks. No doubt next year our lawn will be as full of dandelions as the green.

But I'm trying to think of other things to do with them. Here's some pictures we did. I put the glue on and Anneli blew the clocks over the paper and stuck the petals on. She then drew the leaves with pastel. I think they are pretty marvellous!

Perfect tablet at last!

Yay I've done it! I decided to make another attempt at the tablet. This time I decided to add vanilla, so I made some vanilla sugar (by putting a vanilla pod in a bag of sugar and leaving it for a month). I knuckled down and gave in with my holistic approach, returned to my scientific training, and used a thermometer. I took it to the "firm ball" stage and let it boil till the colour was right and then whipped until I felt the crystallisation begin.

I still had the same bubbling problem when I poured it out into the tray though. I'm not sure what this is caused by. Is it just that the buttered tray provides nucleation points? Should I let the mixture cool a little before whipping? Should I heat the tray before I pour the tablet into it? Either way, once I poured it out I noticed crystals forming on the spoon and in the pan, so I knew I had timed it perfectly this time.

Once the tray had cooled overnight it was plain to see that this batch was the perfect combination of shatter and crumble.

And it melted in the mouth wonderfully. I guess a testament to this is the speed with which it disappeared!

What a marvellous husband

D braved the terrors of the waspy loft to finish the boarding we began 3 years ago. We've been surviving on half a loft for a while but the baby stuff is taking so much space there was nothing for it but to do the job at last. And here's the half that D boarded last weekend. Hoorah for space!


I've had a bit of trouble keeping up the the blogging recently, mostly because I have so many things on my list to do!

But here is the latest BeanPi bag, made for one of my Mum's friends. It's a knitting bag again, but soon I hope to diversify.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The next big thing

It took 2 1/4 years, but we have at last taught Anneli to put herself to sleep alone without ever leaving her to cry. Wow this is a big deal! For me the most amusing thing is that we spent a good deal of time when she was about a year trying to get her to attach to a little toy we called the moog (we even had 3 just in case) to make separation easier. Of course she attached to nothing and wasn't bothered which if any teddy she had with her.
Now, however she has attached to two bracelets (which she wears one on each upper arm), and a Wibbly Pig book (which she tucks under one arm). Once these are all in place she is happy to bed down. Oh dear what have we created....

Now the big new thing is behaviour. To be honest she is pretty good and obedient etc etc but there is always more that parents are asking of a toddler! So we are going to attempt sticker charting! Super nanny reckons you can't do this until 3 years, but we will see.