Monday, October 31

happy halloween!

here's a super quick pumpkin drawing.
happy halloween everybody, and for tomorrow - buenos dia de los muertos!

Sunday, October 30

I love Sundays #1

because of that precious extra hour in bed

because I had fun carving pumpkins for Halloween (I don't even really celebrate Halloween, I just like pumpkin carving)

because of a damp October afternoon walk, drizzly but still atmospheric, where I discovered hidden passages and noticed even more colours in the autumn trees

because I wore my favourite stag jumper that's only allowed out in the months up to Christmas

because of a seriously good dinner: beef pot roast with butternut squash, leeks, carrots and onion, all cooked long and slow so that it was tender and succulent, soft and nutrituous, and just good

because I baked flapjacks again, first a plain syrup batch and then a dark chocolate and orange blossom honey batch - delicious

because Monday's looking promising - I'm seeing a best friend who's home from uni and then finally getting to do some life drawing at my evening art class

Happy Sunday, and may your week ahead be a good one!

P.S because too many people complain that Sundays are boring/depressing/pointless, when actually Sundays can be lovely
P.P.S with the shorter days come the rubbishly lit photographs...

Thursday, October 27

a colourful month

We went for a walk and a cuppa the other afternoon. I took my camera, and while we were out I noticed all kinds of crazy un-autumnal colours which seemed to belong more to April than October!

I love how surprisingly well the purple and the yellow compliment each other.

We also noticed some amazing rays of sunshine streaming down from the sky...

and I went tree climbing (it looked irresistably fun), doing my twelve year old tomboy self proud (although these days I'm much more of a wimp when it comes to jumping back down)

Happy autumn!

Tuesday, October 11

it's a pie AND a crumble!

The other day I stumbled across two gorgeous foodie blogs - Honey & Jam and Always With Butter. The kind of blogs where you want to make and consume everything you see on the first page. So this weekend I decided to have a go at my own version of Julie's strawberry skillet pie. I didn't have strawberries, or a skillet, but I did end up with an amazing pie.

Fruit crumble pie


For the shortcrust pastry

8 oz plain flour
4oz baking margarine
tsp salt
tsp sugar
2-4 tbsp cold water

For the fruit filling

2-2.5lbs fruit (the mushier the fruit (like raspberries) the more you need
2-3 tbsp cornflour (this is ESSENTIAL)
4-6 oz caster sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit used, and your own preferences)
3 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca (optional)
pinch of salt

For the streusel/crumble topping

2 oz sugar
2 oz plain flour
3 oz porridge oats
3-4 oz butter


Make your shortcrust pastry by whizzing the flour, salt, sugar and butter together in a food processor until it looks like coarse crumbs. Whiz in the water a tbsp at a time - when you can form a ball of dough with your hands, enough water has been added (be careful not to add too much water). Form the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. 

When the dough's chilled, roll it out to slightly bigger than your pie dish (this recipe fits a 9 inch diameter dish) and line the dish with it, making sure to push the dough right into the edges and creating a thicker overhanging rim round the sides.

Chop up your fruit into chunks that are about the same size as small/medium strawberries. In a bowl, toss the fruit with the cornflour (don't skimp on the cornflour if you're using particularly juicy fruit, as this pie gets JUICY), sugar, salt and tapioca (if using). Fill your pie with the fruit mixture - don't worry about overfilling it, the fruit should be higher than the pie crust and peak slightly in the middle.

To make the streusel/crumble topping, in a large bowl stir together your oats, flour and sugar. Using your fingers, roughly rub in the butter until you have a crumbly, clumpy mixture that's a bit like flapjack mix. Sprinkle this over the top of your pie.

Bake for 1 - 1.5 hours until the topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling. 

It's easier to serve if you leave it to cool for a couple of hours because it sets slightly. But I prefer it straight out of the oven, warm, messy and homely, falling apart in the dish. Instant autumnal goodness.


Friday, October 7

an autumn playlist

1. Singin’ In The Rain – Gene Kelly
2. Simple Things – Paolo Nutini
3. Music Music Music – Teresa Brewer
4. Cry – Johnnie Ray
5. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks – The National
6.Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
7. O Children – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
8. Heard Them Stirring – Fleet Foxes
9. I And Love And You – The Avett Brothers
10. Blackberry Stone – Laura Marling
11. Close To Me – The Cure
12. I Never – Rilo Kiley
13. Maple Leaves – Jens Lekman

Oh autumn, there is so much to love about you.

Conkers and pine cones to collect, fresh crisp air filling my lungs, leaves crackling under my boots, the trees wearing their best colours. IThere's a scent, a feeling in the air that can only be described as 'autumnal' - full of frost and moonlight, butternut squash and bonfire smoke, mist and damp. Stags with magnificent antlers. Knitted scarves and cardigans. Warm hearty stews to savour as the evenings darken, then hot chocolate and marshmallows at night. Pumpkins, toffee apples, witches and wizards, fireworks. Spelling my name with sparklers. Icy fingers, rosy cheeks, leaves drifting down, red, burgundy, brown, gold.

I will stop going on about autumn eventually, promise. But seeing as the weather's back to its normal state I thought I'd let myself get all excited. And brr! - isn't it cold today! I'm typing this in gloves because my hands are freezing!

Anyway, I've created an autumnal playlist (above), full of songs I've loved during autumns past. Have a listen!


Sunday, October 2

autumn please

So I'm participating, if minimally, in this weird hot weather - I'm wearing denim shorts and sunglasses, drinking mint tea, swimming outdoors and annoying my family by stealing licks of their ice creams ("hey Mum, you know I don't really *like* ice cream, but I'd just like a taste...").

However, 30 degrees in October!? What's going on? Unpopular opinion alert, but I don't like it! I like the seasons to rise and fall when they should, and this heatwave is unsettling me. I know the sunshine is making most people happy but am I really alone in wishing autumn would arrive?

Early autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year, with all its mists and mellow fruitfulness, golden dewy mornings and trees of red and orange. And we're missing out on all this because summer has decided to rear its head two months too late. Noo, not cool.

The garden is getting confused with all the hot sun, and lots of plants are trying to reflower. Oh, and we've got a new friend - every time I go out there to mow the lawn or tidy things up, this little robin comes out to say hello.

He flits about while I'm pottering, and likes to show off. Every time he gets a bit bolder, and actually stopped within a metre or two of me yesterday, so I was able to get the camera out. I think robins like having their photos taken!

Anyway, there are some signs that autumn isn't far off:

Trees are losing their green hues, the shadows are getting longer and there are pine cones and conkers everywhere.

 I'm off to make some blackberry tea and dream of autumn and all the apple crumbles and woolly scarves it involves - who wants to join me?

(P.S. I've finally updated my about me page, and added a page with all the blogs I like to read, so have a look if you're curious...)