Sunday, 11 January 2009

Baby it's cold outside

This is it, the final photos of 2008. Another year done and dusted. Not a great year but not as disasterous as some i've scraped through.

So to start with are the final mini Christmas cakes, all package up and ready to go into the hamper. The board's were gold coaster i spotted in sainsburys which were just the pefect size and i bought some cellophane from a local florist. When we got down to Nan's i wished i had made a 4th cake for her next door neighbour, who is also caring for a deteriorating husband. And i fear her husband is further along in the progression of the dementia, that the husband of the other friend, for whom i had originally planned the 3rd cake. I shared my frustrations with Nan and Mum, and it was actually Nan who suggested that she give a cake each to her friends and then keep one for herself and grandpa. In the dining room it became clear that they were not desperately in need of more cake, given that Nan had made a large cake of her own and also had cakes, sweets and biscuits that she had gained from raffle prizes at her coffee morning and from the walking group.

I used the remainder of the cellophane to wrap up the loaf of bread that i baked on Boxing day, ready for the hamper the next day.

I experimented slightly with this loaf by adding some seed mix that we had in the cupboard. D was supposedly going to have it on his cereal of a morning but that intention didn't last for long. so when i mixed the dry ingredients, i added a couple of handfuls. It worked out fine and in fact this is how mum prefers the bread now. With us visiting Nan had, of course, got bread out (2 different thicknesses of brown and white 'petit pain' rolls) for lunch and dinner. So before dinner i sliced it for her, re-wrapped in in the cellophane and put it in the freezer.

Please excuse this next photo. I tried to trim off the background because it was far too cluttered and detracted your eyes from the hamper. However it didn't work out as neatly as i had hoped and i soon got fed up with editing it.

The 'healthy' hamper - healthy in the sense that its rather full as opposed to full of health conscious items! The bread is probably the healthiest thing in there along with the cakes, biscuits, wine, beer, sloe gin. There is some cheese and cured ham under there somewhere too.

The garden is still producing goods.

One of the things i love about growing your own, is the variety of shapes and sizes that grow, i love the lack of uniformity.

Since the New Year, it has been rather chilly, certainly for south east england. One day last week the temperature didn't make it about -3 degrees celcius.
It does make for some pretty pictures though.
Thats so long as my finger don't get to cold that i lose all feeling in them and can't operate the camera!
It doesn't seem to worry the birds at all. The Robin has a particularly red breast this winter. I'm sure i heard somewhere that the redder the robin's breast, the colder the winter.
Mr/Mrs Robin hangs around the nuts waiting for the great tits, blue tits, sparrows, starlings, squirrel and other finches to peck away and then cleans up the scraps on the floor below.

Unfortunately the feeders are just a little too far away to get a perfect photo, but my little camera (when on a tripod) can still capture the subject well enough.
These are mum's favourite winter visitors here with a blue tit. The long-tailed tit, who arrive in a little flock to feed. I think we've had a maximum of around 15 at once, and if you see one you can be sure his/her friends aren't far behind. They are a beautiful soft pink colour, and every so scatty. They flit about, on and off the nuts and up into the trees, yet despite this they are quite brave, and have no fears about feeding when i am in the garden, over by the shed for instance.

They don't seem to mind the cold. I guess they have no choice, afterall they need to feed and i don't know of any indoor bird cafes. For me on the other hand - it is too cold, which leads me to staying with indoor activities, such as bread baking!
This is my latest bread experiment, that i saw when browsing online. I had a dilema. Mum wanted bread with seeds whereas i wanted bread without seeds, i'm not keen on bits in my soft, light, unadulterated homemade bread. So after i've mixed the dough, i split it in half, putting one half in a bowl to proove as it is and the other half i add the seeds to and knead/mix them in. The packet of seeds that we have in the cupboard right now is a mix of Sesame, Pumpkin and Sunflower but when that's finished i might see what other mixes Tescos sell.
Once both have prooved in their seperate bowls, i put them in the tin, one in each half and let it proove again. As they proove together, they join in the middle to create one loaf ready for the oven.
A couple of early(ish) morning shots to end with. It was 7.15am sunday morning when i got up and went downstair fo find mum having just put the kettle on. She pointed out the moon, which was still up, out the back of the house.
Then about half hour later when we were back in our beds with a nice warm cuppa she called through the bedroom wall for me to look out of the front of the house.
I know it was a sunrise, but i think the sunset setting on my camera works just the same!
Best of Luck for 2009 to everyone.