Friday, 17 February 2012

T.F.I. - against the odds

It may not have gone unnoticed that I have been childfree since Monday lunchtime. I cannot believe it is Friday already. Where was my free time? My time to relax? My time to bake and blog to my heart's content?

Well, it seems that I am incapable of taking advantage of the situation sufficiently. True, on Monday evening, we had a lovely dinner to celebrate our anniversary, but I didn’t get as far as pudding because by 8, although my crab cocktail starter and the James Martin duck breasts in plum sauce were well under way, the pistachios for the hot chocolate pistachio pudding were still firmly in their shells in their packet in the cupboard. And I was too tired to even start.

I suggested to the Husband that I would save the pudding for Valentines’ day and had another glass of wine instead. Needless to say, the decorating didn’t get started.
Valentine’s Day – we both remembered – the mutual association of wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day is very helpful, I find – but aside from cards, we don’t really do much. Never more so than this year: first thing, we cleared out the furniture that was left in Pink’s bedroom and then once work was finished and the dog was walked, I got on the painting clothes and set to with the sanding and cutting in. One of her walls has exposed beams in it, so the whole lot had to be painted with a brush. We had re-heated roast for dinner – hardly a great romantic feast (although Sunday’s gravy was particularly good this week) – and the pudding stayed resolutely unmade in the cupboards. We finished most of the cutting in and I pinned the curtains.
On Wednesday, I did manage to make a pie – a delicious pie: steak and ale, following a recipe from Barney Desmazery in a  Good Food mag – Feb 2010: . I had to make a pie to feed 10 people to take with me to a supper on Wednesday evening and doubled up, this fitted the job nicely. Typically, I hadn’t properly read the recipe, so instead it was beef, ale and swede pie, but none the worse for that. I did have the dried porcini mushrooms but not the fresh ones. I also didn’t have enough plain flour to make the double quantity of pastry that would have been required to make a fully encased pie, so I made one batch, topped up the plain flour with some spelt, and made what the author of the recipe refers to “something that’s essentially a stew with a sheet of pastry” . Sorry Barney, but that’s just life. To make up for the unromantic Valentine’s meal, I made the Husband a little pie to eat on his own while I was out and covered it in hearts. Don’t tell me romance is dead in our house!

I managed to get a coat of paint on the woodwork and walls in Pink’s room, walk the dog and complete my working day. Allotment Junkie sent me a text. “I hoped you might get a bit of a rest.”

why do my cupcakes never look this good?
Thursday dawned. Another coat on the woodwork and touched up the walls first thing (the Husband had finished a second coat on Wednesday evening, fuelled by his post-Valentine’s pie) with a view to it all being dried by the evening so we could move everything back in to her room. Walked the dog, did my work. The hearts and cupcakes stickers arrived for the walls. I couldn’t wait till the evening-such fun covering her newly-painted white walls. The Husband came home. We put her bed back into the room and did some running repairs to 2 of the slats – too much bouncing on the bed, me thinks. The Husband put the rest of her room back together and turned her pink fluffy square IKEA rug into a heart shaped one, and went out to get fish & chips. Finished the curtains – my patented quick fix curtains – pin everything together and sew it all in one go. Not orthodox perhaps, but it works. I know this is supposed to be a food blog of sorts, but can I just say that the material I got is sooo cute. Cupcakes. So sort of related.

We missed a night at the pub to get it finished. One day she might appreciate what that means.

So here I am, Friday afternoon. The children are to be returned to us tomorrow at Kings Cross at 12.30. In honour of our anniversary, we have planned a night out this evening. It was originally to have been in London, but for complicated reasons it is to be in Salisbury. Part of the reason for the mad painting and decorating has been with a view to getting it all done so that we can have this night away. As all parents, we spend much time plotting for moments when we can recapture, even for a short time, what it was like before the children came along. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to go back to that state permanently, but even time on our own in the house ends up swallowed up in doing jobs – as evidenced by this week, and we were both really looking forward to a night away with no unfinished jobs staring at us.  We’d even managed to find someone to look after Fred, so all bases were covered.
However, disaster! During the course of Thursday it became apparent that Blue was coming down with something. Would he be well enough to travel? The Husband and I have been putting on our respective brave faces, and fashioned a plan should he not be well enough. A plan which would have meant foregoing our night out. I tried not to feel too disheartened- after all it’s certainly not the first time such a plan has been thwarted - but sometimes it’s hard not to feel a little bit like having an ‘it’s not fair’ tantrum. You’ll be pleased to know that on this occasion I resisted.

And now hope has been rewarded. It seems he is well enough to travel tomorrow, so in an hour or so I can log out and head for the bright lights of Salisbury. And after I don’t know how many years, I have won a whole £25 on the premium bonds. Let’s go crazy!

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