Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Four is the magic number

Yes, I know it's really three but I'm running low on ideas today!

Alison and Starry tagged me for the seven random things meme a while back but since I did something similar last year I'm going to cop out of that one. Then Ruth tagged me for the four things meme and I reckon I might have enough brain to manage this one, with its guidelines and all that. (I have the most awful feeling someone else may have tagged me too - if it was you, I am sorry! I am rubbish!)

But before I do, in case I bore you rigid and you run away, here is a sneaky peek at some embroidered buttons I have been making for a swap. Some of these may feature in a long overdue giveaway soon ...

Right, here goes.

Four films I would watch again

Four Weddings and a Funeral - How many times have I watched this? I've lost count. I first saw it when I was a postdoc in North Carolina and 500 miles away from Mr Dottycookie and watching a charming British comedy was exactly the tonic I needed. I even scrounged the poster from the cinema once the run was over. Hmmmm.

Some Like It Hot - "Nobody's perfect". Snort!

Shaun of the Dead - Perhaps I have a sick sense of humour but I cannot hear "Don't Stop Me Now" on the radio without bursting into loud guffaws.

Starter For Ten - Very lightweight, very silly, but with a brilliant mildly alternative 80s soundtrack and James McAvoy in virtually every scene - I mean, really, what else could you ask for?

There are many more. Loads and loads.

Four places I have lived

Purley - Where I grew up. So did Derren Brown, apparently. And of course, it was the home of Terry and June. Ahh, Purley. Say no more ...

Oxford - I spent eight very happy years here in the 80s and 90s and always love going back to visit the city though it has changed enormously. Mr DC's claim to fame is that he appears briefly in an episode of Inspector Morse (you have to know where to look!)

Ballston Lake - A tiny, tiny village in upstate New York where we lived in a little house on the shores of the lake. The house was really quite grotty, but we could get home from work, and be swimming in the lake within two minutes. Bliss.

Cambridge - Where we are now, and where we'll hopefully be for a while yet ...

Four TV shows I watch

Only four? OK. Actually, I'm pushed to think of four current ones I really like which begs the question, why is the TV on so frequently?

How about four that are old but that I've watched recently anyway?

QI - I really hated this when it first started - it seemed so very smug, but I have been lured in and will watch it any time I can find it in the schedules. Which, let's face it, is more than once every week.

Shameless - I recently discovered this on 4OD having missed it the first time round (I was rather busy having baby number 2 I seem to remember) and the first two series make me laugh a lot. Later series, not so much. (And I know Kim knows why I like it ;-)

Spaced - Again, I missed this first time round but rented it after watching Shaun of the Dead and it really is very funny.Well, I think so anyway.

House - Lest you think I only watch comedies. Well, actually I do find this quite funny in parts. There is no hope!

(Better speed this up)

Four places I have been (and that left a lasting impression)
The Keats Shelley House in Rome.
The top of the Empire State Building (especially for Mr DC)
Key West - we honeymooned here. Sigh.
Helvellyn (we took the easy route up - I have no head for edges!)

Four things to eat

Home made bread

Four places I'd rather be

Actually, I'm quite happy here thanks!

Four things to look forward to

Spending more time at home with my littlies
The wedding of a very old friend in June
Holidaying by the seaside
Finally finishing writing up a paper at work!

Four people to tag

This has taken so much longer than I had expected it to that I'm reluctant to pass it on to anyone who doesn't want to do it. So, grab it if you want it - and maybe leave me a comment to say you're going to have a go?

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Leaf printing

Those of you with little (or not so little) children might have already come across the Crafty Crow - a blog devoted to ideas for crafty activities with children of all ages. Recently there was a link to an idea for imprinting leaves and so on into clay - which tied in beautifully with both our nature table scavenger hunts and with using up the brightly coloured fimo lurking in our cupboard (yet another impulse purchase that never turned into the project it was intended for).

These are easy peasy - a ball of Fimo, a leaf on top then squiiiiiiish with the base of a glass and bake them. The detail is amazing. and it's fun to see features you don't always notice on the leaf itself:



something I can't remember (slapped wrist - what kind of scientist doesn't label experiments?!)

pine cone


We started off making flat discs that I thought could live on our nature table, but they were quite chunky, and the girls insisted on making rather a lot of them, so genius Mr Dottycookie came up with the idea of making them into a mobile. I'm afraid I left them to it - there were some very firm ideas flying about and my idea of tying the blobs to branches was absolutely not was what required; bamboo, hacksaws and string were far more appealing. He was so pleased with the way it turned out that he made a hole in their ceiling for a hook and takes great pleasure in twirling it around for them at bedtime like one of those roundabouts with swings hanging from it.

I love it too!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Unexpected treasures

Wandering round the other day I noticed nature creating scenes I had not designed.

Saxifrage flowering in an abandoned pot:

Here's one I had givne up for dead and shoved round the side of the water butt meaning to clear it out and re-use the pot - sometimes I'm glad I am a lazy person

Alpine strawberries taking advantage, frankly:

Bits of an old necklace I shall never wear but couldn't bring myself to throw away:

And something else stuck to the fridge, though I am not sure Mother Nature had much to do with this:


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Daffodils - but only just!

Every year one of the villages close to us holds a daffodil festival - a huge village fete that attracts visitors from far and wide. There are coachloads of people who come in for the day, and caravanners who come for the weekend - I've even heard people phoning Chris Evans on a Friday evening to say they are on their way there! It was held a little later this year than usual, so there were fewer daffodils in evidence, but still there were plenty of people to enjoy food, crafts, rides, and Morris dancers both traditional:

and rather more avant garde (!):

This year they also had utterly terrifying miniature off road landrovers - very exciting for five year olds, quite scary for the accompanying adult (ie me) perched on the side of the car with the choice of either steering or holding on - we saw another mum literally fall off as her son navigated over an obstacle! Tall hubby was given a slightly longer car and somehow managed to fold his legs up and wedge himself right in. I didn't.

One of the highlights is always riding on the horse drawn carriages, and eating too much ice cream, though the biggest - and loveliest - surprise of the afternoon was bumping into Gina and Julie walking up the road towards the church.

We'll definitely be there next year - will you?

Friday, 11 April 2008

Gooseberry fool

Apologies for long delays between posts - my beloved laptop is not at all well so has been replaced with a new shiny model and I'm trying to learn new mail, photo and everything else applications which takes a while ...

We were very surprised last week while staying at my mum's house; when we went to visit our favourite tea place, Badgers in Alfriston, we found it absolutely heaving at lunchtime on a wet Wednesday outside Sussex school holidays. I mean, I know I've talked about it a few times on here but really - the power of the blogosphere, completely awe inspiring .

Oh, do you think the review in the Independent might have had something to do with it?

Anyway, they serve fabulous cakes and lunches and will even give you a postcard to send so that you can spread the word far and wide:

Every cup of tea comes with a fabulously jewelled spoon, and is served on mismatched floral china. Last year I felt the need for a Badger's experience at home so I beaded some spoons (as you do) and worked out an approximation of their Gooseberry and Elderflower cake - which is a lazier version of a Nigella recipe:

Gooseberry and Elderflower Sponge

225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial
4 eggs
200g SR flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tbsp milk

Gooseberry jam
Double cream, whipped
Icing sugar

Preheat over to 180C/Gas 4. Base line a loose bottomed, ideally springform 21cm cake tin. Strictly speaking this should be split between 2 tins but I only have one so I coook it a bit longer as we like slightly crunchy edges. I'd win no prizes in the WI!

Mix SR flour, cornflour and baking powder.

Cream butter and sugar - I do this in a food processer. Add eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour mixture, pulsing to mix. Add rest of flour and mix well. Add 2 tbsp elderflower cordial, and enough milk to make a soft dropping consistency.

Put mixture in tin and bake until they are springy when pressed and a skewer comes out clean - for me with one tin that was about 45 minutes, but if you've done it properly and divided between two it's probably only 25 mins.

Slice cake inexpertly in half, and fill with lots of gooseberry jam and whipped cream. Sift icing sugar over the top to hide any imperfections et voila!

Gone in twenty minutes on a snowy afternoon. Yes, I did have help with the eating, before you ask.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Reactions of a fighter pilot

No, honestly, I have - the machine told me so:


We stopped off at Duxford on our way back from half term with my parents. We live close enough that they give us free entry to make up for the inconvenience (?!) of having Spitfires buzzing over our house on summer weekends. It's a wonderful place, and we all enjoy looking at the planes they have rescued, watching the films and reading the extensive documentation so carefully prepared.

Well, actually I think some of us enjoy the adventure playground and aviation experiments more than the planes themselves.

One thing we always do is take the land train to the furthest building, the Land Warfare Hall to look at one specific exhibit which fascinates Miss Tiny Small, and breaks my heart every time I see it.

"First World War Soldier's Boots"