Friday, 30 April 2010

A moment of rest

Craziness, sheer and utter craziness -- the last two weeks have been bonkers. At one point we had six people here sharing one and a half bath. Then in the middle of it we travelled nine hours (due to terrible traffic) to Monchengladbach for a wedding. Well, the house is quiet again for the moment and I'm just now catching up on my blogroll. There's one terrific blog that I just started following -- Tea Rose Home. At the moment she has a Mother's Day giveaway going on. Please stop by! Although I'm newish to sewing, she has a number of terrific sewing tutorials that I think I can even follow. In flickr news, Graphics Fairy now has a flickr group. I've added pics of some of my work.

Gotta run for now -- I'm hosting a tea party tomorrow and I haven't even started preparing! The all-home-made menu (as of this moment): scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, porter cake, banana bread, cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches (all with crusts cut off of course), tea, coffee, and lemonade. Pictures to come!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Unexpected Pleasures

Black Forest Torte, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
We had a relative fly over to see us this past weekend and now we're not sure when he's going to leave! As soon as he landed, European airlines started to cancel flights because of the Icelandic volcano. Looks like he'll be here for at least another week (if the air clears by then)! I really should say that it is nice to have him visit and we're glad to have him stay so long. It is just a bit disruptive to our plans though.

I do like having out of town company. Once I get past the stress of cleaning and cooking, I enjoy playing tour guide. Visitors give us a good excuse to forget daily, mundane responsibilities and to do all the fun things I haven't done in a while -- window shopping, playing tourist, and eating really indulgent cakes at lovely cafes while watching the world pass by. Strangely, I'm really good at doing those things.

The weather has cooperated nicely for our visitor, so we spent part of the weekend on the windsurf/kite surf beach at Pelzerhaken. As my other half is a windsurfer, this is our home away from home. Luckily there is a good cafe and a playground here to keep the rest of the family entertained.

Despite having company with us we're off to a wedding this weekend. I've never been to a German wedding, so it will be a bit confusing to follow the ceremony. This one should be doubly interesting as the wedding is in German and Turkish! I'm also looking forward to seeing some of our friends there that we haven't seen for a while. Have a good week!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Gromitz Kite Festival

Kite Festival, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
Last weekend we visited the Gromitz Kite Festival. As we wore shorts and cycled there last year, it felt like the beginning of summer. This year we drove and wore winter coats, what a difference. Unfortunately, there wasn't very much wind, so only a few kites actually made it up on Saturday. We still had fun though. There were children's activities and my daughter had her face painted, so she was happy.

During the summer, we frequently visit the town just for a pleasant half day out. Gromitz is a nice little town with a terrific beach. The immaculate promenade is new (ish) and is lined by little cafes, restaurants and shops. Playgrounds and toilettes are conveniently spaced out down the beach, so it is very family friendly. Our favourite Eis Cafe is pictured below. My husband loves the mint chocolate, I love the coconut ice cream, and my daughter loves anything pink. They have a huge selection of ice cream, which I think is made on site. They also have a good beverages and kuchen (cakes and tortes).

The town is also home to two other attractions that we love. The indoor pool, located right on the beach front, is fantastic. My daughter loves the kiddie pool and the wave pool. The second attraction is Obsthof Schneekloth, a pick-your-own fruit farm and cafe. This year we are definitely not going to miss the cherry season here!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Easter treats

Easter treats, originally uploaded by Tea Potty.
Hope you had a happy Easter! It was a bit chilly and changeable here, but we managed to get out and about a bit. It is hard to believe that last Easter I was wearing shorts and we ate our Easter dinner (lamb shanks in red wine -- yummy) outside!

This weekend all crafts got put aside and I donned my apron for some major cooking and baking. I started on Thursday with hot cross buns. I’ve never made them before and although I did do a bit of swearing, I will make them again next year. Maybe I’ll try a different recipe, as the buns were heavy and not as fluffy as I like them.

On Friday, we made our fun eggs. Usually we make chocolate eggs (dark chocolate drizzled with milk and white chocolate) in a silicon Easter egg mould, but this year we broke with tradition. We made chocolate rice krispie Easter eggs. While the crispies were still warm in the pan, I used the egg mould to roughly press the treats into shape. Then using lightly oiled hands we finished smoothing them into eggs. Using a bit of leftover melted chocolate, we “glued” on smarties and chocolate buttons. My daughter was covered in chocolate by the time she was done, but we had great fun.

As all of the hot cross buns were gone by Saturday, I made a batch of simnel muffins to last us the weekend. These are one of my favourites – they have a little nugget of marzipan in the middle.

Most of Sunday afternoon was spent hovering around the kitchen. As our relatives are too far away for a quick weekend visit, I just had to cook for the three of us. It gives me a good excuse to try out new recipes that I wouldn’t cook on a daily basis. This year I made Gary Rhodes’ slow-roasted, honey-glazed duck. Although the glaze turned out much darker than it should have and the skin didn’t go crispy, it was gorgeous. It was the best duck I have ever had – slightly sweet from the honey and meltingly tender. One store-bought, 2.4 kg duck fed the three of us perfectly. This was a bit disappointing as I was hoping for leftovers. I should’ve known though. It was time consuming for just one meal – basting every 5-10 minutes at the end! I will consider doing this one again either for a romantic Valentine’s dinner or maybe doubling it and doing two ducks at once.

As I knew I would be spending so much time on Easter dinner, I resorted to buying Louise Lamb (see above). Around us here in Germany, this lamb-shaped cake is popular in bakeries. If I can still find one, I’m going to buy it – it was so cute! It was a pound-cake or Madeira-cake type of cake covered with powdered sugar. We ate it with hot custard, but I’m sure berries would be perfect as well.

Now we’re getting back into our workweek routine, with just our Easter sweets left to console us until the next holiday! I’ve hung up my apron for a little while (friends and relatives are descending on us in a week) and have resumed my embroidery.

One last note – I’m so excited about my latest flea market find! I don’t have a proper tea set, so I’ve just collected pretty and unusual tea cup and plate sets from local flea markets. I never spend more than 5 euros. I was so surprised to see this one with a spool of thread and needle on it! I snapped it up naturally. Now I think it is time for a muffin and cup of tea!