Saturday, 30 March 2013

Greedy Bird Baking Enterprise: Grown-up Mocha Cupcakes

A baking collaboration with the lovely Nao who has been brightening our days this week. Usually I don't do pretty fancy baking, but Nao gave me some pretty fancy baking things for my birthday so we decided to do a proper afternoon tea. I forget how easy pretty fancy baking can be, and how much fun. Sprinkles make me feel like a kid again. These cupcakes were just right as well. Not too sweet, just enough coffee and frankly improved (I'm sure) by our addition of chocolate chips to the batter. I mean, what is not frankly improved by the addition of chocolate?

And the minibeasts were very proud of the Easter nests they made for Egg festivities chez les cousins tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Tonight Matilda and Owen ate dinner holding hands.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

GBBE // Easter Art // Homemade Obstacle Course

Tana Ramsay's Banana & Pineapple Cake

Matilda: Bunny & Cow
Owen: Sheep & Chicken

They built this obstacle course entirely on their own.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Making myself miserable?

Imagining Hugh Jackman as Valjean is making the
experience a whole lot less miserable

Do you remember when I concluded that life is too short to read Proust?

Turns out, where le vieux Marcel failed, the venerable Monsieur Hugo has triumphed. As with Proust, I managed to avoid Victor Hugo at university. How? I did read Madame Bovary about five times, finally deciding on the fifth read that it was indeed a splendid novel.

Anyway, at the beginning of this year Jen told me she had decided to embark upon Les Misérables for 2013 because it is her husband Simon's favourite book. Strangely enough I had also been considering attempting Les Mis, well, not that strange, the release of the recent musical film had brought the book back to my attention.  So with Jen as a cross-atlantic reading buddy I decided to take the plunge.  Or several little plunges.  The book is divided into five volumes and, like Jen, I am going to alternate Hugo with other reading matter.

I also took my time taking the plunge and have only just started.  But 200 pages in, so far so good.  Which is strange because the first 100 pages do little other than go on about the saintly qualities of a local bishop.  And yet, even given this unpromising start and hitting the wall of 19th century French prose for the first time in more years than I care to remember, it is strangely compelling.  There is a wry sense of humour, which I didn't expect, and a rousingly passionate conviction, which I did.

I would like to point out that I have not gone into this enterprise unprepared.  When I was in Paris visiting Michaela we took a trip into the sewers, where I am reliably informed I will have to spend 100 or so pages of the book.

Jen, courage my reading buddy, we can do it!

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Nigella Lawson's Sticky Chocolate Pudding,
one of the many things I will not be denying myself

Today I had the most brilliant news, contrary to all expectations I passed my sugar test.  First pregnancy ever.  My Last But Not Least making up for the early weeks of morning sickness.  In France they systematically test pregnant women for glucose intolerance/diabetes.  Thereby providing us with yet another thing to stress about.  The first test involves a blood test, then ingesting a large amount of sugar water, sitting tight for an hour, and then another blood test.  Not so bad if you have a good book.  The second test, which you have to do if you fail the first one, involves a blood test, then ingesting an unfeasibly, sickeningly large amount of sugar water, then sitting tight for four hours with blood tests every hour.  I've had to do this with both previous pregnancies and find it utterly inhumane.  Even with a good book.  Oh and did I mention, you have to do both tests on an overnight empty stomach.  And then, the cherry on the cake, or the tomato on the plate of lettuce (no dressing, absolutely no dressing) having failed the second test (as I did, both previous times) you have to follow a strict diet, no chocolate, cake, biscuits, ice-cream, sweets and even those wonderfully succulent fruits are out of bounds, no pineapple, no melon.  Right at the time when any normal pregnant woman NEEDS sugar to galumph her way through those glamourous last couple of months.  Both times I found it hell.  Ok, a sense of perspective compels me to admit that such torture would probably only gain me admission to a very minor level of hell, but for a sugar fiend like myself it was horrid.  My maternity bag was not packed with baby grows and nappies like most women, but Reese's and Lindt.  As soon as the little squatters were out the chocolate went in.  I mean happy mummy, happy baby right?

And perhaps now would be the right time to brag about my first attempt at chocolate-making, as I can now envisage further attempts in the near future.  For Helke's birthday I made another couple of pots of lemon curd and a batch of white chocolate and lemon truffles.  I don't have a lot to say about them, other than that they were super easy to make and super yummy to eat.  I kept forgetting to photograph them so the one above is my very last one.  Sadly no more.

I get very excited about trying out all these homemade sugar fixes.  Sometimes I glance at the healthier food options being vaunted on other blogs.  But if I want to be healthy I'll wash an apple or peel a carrot.  If I'm going to put in some effort in the kitchen then I'm afraid I'll be reaching for the sugar, the butter, a slab of chocolate and, well probably still a carrot, every time.  As Moominmamma very wisely says "All nice things are good for you". 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Spring has sprung

Happy Spring!  To celebrate, an easy sunny photo post of Matilda and Owen's first game of Un, deux, trois, soleil!  Or Grandmother's Footsteps to the Rosbifs.  I happily sat and watched them play,thinking how wonderful they can now engage in these old-fashioned childhood games together,  they can grasp the concept of rules, more or less (decidedly less in O's case, he only moved when Matilda was looking), and with just a little initial guidance from papa, they can carry on without too much parental intervention.

Peace.  Relief.  Well-being.

And then I thought, d'oh, not for much longer...  But three more years and we'll be back to being Un, deux, trois, soleil parents.  And how much more fun will the mini-beasts have playing as a trio.  And how much greater the sense of parental peace, relief and well-being when that day comes to pass.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

I am Moomintroll

Posts have been piling up in my head. But school holidays, plus a bout of post-flu sinusitus, plus translation work, plus life have left little time for the indulgence of blogging. So I have posts about my first attempt at chocolate making (a hit, a very palpable hit!), about our second Carnaval Occitan, about my increasingly eccentric son and his gender-bending ways, about wonderful friends and birthday surprises, about 1-2-3 Soleil in the forest, about a reading project, all knocking about between my ears. But for the moment, hoping that my prayers for more hours in the day will be answered, I'll just share with you another Moomins quote that tickled me.

"In the morning the sun rose farther and farther into the drawing room, looking embarrassedly at cobwebs and dust pellets. The bigger dust wads, those that had grown round and full of personality, Moomintroll used to carry out on the veranda, but the small ones he allowed to roll around as they liked."
From Moominland Midwinter.

I may or may not be back, sooner or later, older but certainly not wiser with one or all or none of the above posts.