Lemon & Courgette Cupcakes

Lemons & Courgettes

Back to school.

Three harmless words. Together, however, their alliance packs quite a punch.

I know the holidays can be hard for some. Working mothers have to fund potentially expensive
childcare or face being penalised for their absence. SAHMs with small children
are faced with endless hours of organised play which can be exhausting as well
as financially draining.

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DIY Eton Mess with Rhubarb Compote

Eton Mess Collage

Unless you have been living in the outer regions of a far, far away land, you probably know that there was a “royal wedding” last Friday. If you have been paying the slightest bit of attention to the news then you probably also know it was the wedding of Prince William (son of Charles and Diana) and Catherine (formerly known as Kate). You may even have watched it or caught the highlights later on.

In the UK, where it had been declared a national holiday, many people (2 million according to circulated figures) set up street parties and celebrated as a local community. After all, whether you are a royalist or not, these days are a great excuse for communities to come together and have a bit of fun.

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Homemade Mincemeat

Jars of homemade mincemeat

Now that Thanksgiving is officially on its way out, I guess we can all start focussing our efforts on Christmas. Although, if your English you may have been doing that for some time. In fact, you may have started your pre-christmas baking last week with the appearance of Stir-up Sunday.  

Originally an informal term in Anglican churches for the last Sunday before the season of Advent, Stir-up Sunday has now come to represent the day in which bakers prepare their preserves, puddings and cakes ready for Christmas. Most of them contain a large amount of booze, so they keep well, and are mixed with even larger amounts of fruit. The combined flavours of both are able to  mature and grow richer in flavour over the days leading up to the 25th.

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A little bit of Heaven x 2

1. Holiday in Scotland

Having packed a suitcase with mostly clothes and accessories better suited to the ski slops, it was slightly galling to find that our week in Scotland was besieged with sunshine! Who’d have thought. Particularly when our visit there in August had produced little more than rain and wind (okay the odd day of sun as my OH keeps reminding me). This has led me to think that Spring is the new Summer. Well at least on the British Isles. July and August seems to produce a lot of rain. So much so there is often flooding in parts of the country. Whereas Spring is sunny with only the occasional shower. Anyway, enough of the weather (wow I really have been here too long…).

Ardtornish Estate where we stayed is directly across from the Isle of Mull and is quite rightly described in the visitor’s book as something out of a Kiera Knightly movie. A step back in time, Ardtornish House was built in the late 1800’s and retains a large portion of its original features. On the ground floor, the servants entrance at the back of the house contains a wall of about 50 bells. Each one has a well-worn, almost illegible plaque underneath it that contains the name of the room it corresponds with. In each room is a small metal button (much like a “doorbell”) that rings down to one of the bells. They still work. Although, unfortunately, no servant is waiting to bring you your tea in bed!

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From My Kitchen to Yours…What Traditions Are Made of

Today is Easter 2010. What is Easter if not a religious holiday? For many it also spells the beginning of Spring. Either way Easter is about rebirth. What has died is born again. Nature plays its part by budding and blossoming. The sky is alight with rainbows as the sun and rain combine to nurture the land back to life. We follow it’s call by shedding our winter layers and bearing our skin in the hope that it will be replenished. The smells of Spring take me back to moments in my childhood when nothing was more complicated than tumbling across the grass, cycling through the streets of my neighbourhood or swinging on a tyre in our backyard.

Holidays are markers in themselves. We look back on Easters past and the days that have been filled in between them. What’s new, what’s different, what’s changed, what’s remained the same. As we get older the constants are what we hang on to as time moves faster and faster on ahead of us without even a friendly glance back. The traditions of our holidays provide those constants. For what are holidays but the memories of those gone before. It’s the inspiration from the childhood excitement and wonder such days were filled with that reminds us of how special they are. Continue reading