New “Creations For Sale” page

I’ve finally got round to uploading photos of some of the bags I’ve been making.

I’m hosting an artisanal open house next week, and I was suddenly aware that I was directing invitees to my blog, but I didn’t have any evidence of what I make on here.

As I add more, I will let you know ūüėČ

The page link is at the top of the home page, or click on the link below.

You’re just on holiday all the time!

So declared a neighbour’s kid to Lego Boy one day. ¬† She definitely struggles with the idea that he doesn’t go to school and you can see her thinking it through, and occasionally she’ll come out with pronouncements like that.

Lego Boy is a bit bemused by it all. ¬†As getting his education outside of school has always been an option for him, and even though he knows that the vast majority of children go to school, to him it is such a simple idea, that he doesn’t get what is so hard for others to understand.

He is aware that he is lucky that we give him the option (although sometimes he isn’t sure why all children don’t get that choice from their parents) of going to school or not………

(And he certainly doesn’t think that he is on holiday all the time. In fact there are times when he gets quite cross when I ask him to do something)

But, we only do a couple of hours of more formal work a day, so yes, the rest of the day can seem like a holiday.

Do you have holidays, like half term and Easter

We definitely have ‘time off’. ¬†Whether this is in line with the cantonal school holidays depends. ¬†It depends on if we are doing something particularly engaging that we wish to continue with, or if we need to catch up oth a few things (which I’m aware is a slightly abstract concept, as we don’t have deadlines), or if we just need a bit of a break from sitting down at the table.

This last week though was Relaches, Swiss Romande equivalent of half term. ¬†It normally means kids and families take off for the mountains for a week of skiing, or children spend a week with grandparents. ¬†For us, it usually means at least a few early mornings and a bit of one-on-one time for me and Dino Girl. This is because, with a bit of searching, (and not always online, as the Swiss don’t seem to be huge internet users, particularly businesses) I sign Lego Boy up for one or more workshops, or ateliers.

Last year, he spent a whole week with the maison de quartier sous gare (sort of like a youth club) away skiing. He didn’t want to do the same this year, as he said that 5 days skiing in the morning and the afternoon with no choice to opt out was way too much for him.

However this year I was a little slack in looking for something. A friend saved the day. She told me about Un Jour, Deux Mus√©es, a workshop between two local museums, the Alimentarium and the Mus√©e de Jeu. As they have just moved back to Switzerland and their eldest, F, is not so confident in French, we booked the same day for Lego Boy and F to go to. Unfortunately on the day, F was ill, so Lego Boy went on his own. He had a great time. The morning was spent in the kitchens of the food museum making vegetable lasagne, salad and dessert (never could get out of him what dessert was as he didn’t like it). After a few games and eating what they’d made, they walked to the next village and the games museum (situated in a castle), where they spent the afternoon playing loads of board games and playing in the castle grounds.
As F didn’t want to miss out, we booked for both of them to go a couple of days later. The woman seemed concerned that Lego Boy was doing the same thing again, but seemed placated when I said that he was helping his friend to understand what was going on.

The rest of half term week was spent pretty much as normal, although his yoga, theatre and art classes were cancelled. After a couple of weeks of not doing much ‘work’ we decided to do a couple of tasks each day, just to keep our hand in. Or something.

I guess I should probably start thinking about activities for the Easter holidays now…

On Your Marks, Get Set, BAKE!

(with a nod to Nigel Slater)

I do like to bake. It manages to lift my mood when nothing else can. I can’t get philosophical or metaphorical about why. It just does.

I have been baking for quite a while, even managing to knock something up in our badly equipped uni hall of residence kitchen many moons ago. I think I’m lucky that I have a family that love cakes and biscuits (although I think its probably a rare one that doesn’t).

Since moving house last March, we now have a bigger kitchen (in our old one, if you had the dishwasher open you would be trapped in there, and there was just enough built-in workspace to put a kettle) and this has helped enormously. It also means that both The Hub and I can be in the kitchen at the same time, and this has helped to ignite a love of baking in him.
We watched the latest series of The Great British Bake Off together, and drooled over the delights that the amateur bakers created. Then at Christmas my lovely sister bought me not only Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake , but also the book from the series, How To Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstoppers , by Linda Collister, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

The Hub has taken it upon himself to become the bread expert. He baked his first batch of Christmas Buns with aplomb and can often now be found in the kitchen kneading and mixing (with the help of our latest gadget, our trusty K-Mix).

Christmas Buns

Christmas Buns

And so I found myself at home with Dino Girl today without Lego Boy and The Hub who had gone skiing.
The Hub had recently made a bet with a colleague over a piece of code he’d written (something to do with a zero point exception, or something similarly geeky) and as the loser has to make a cheesecake. He has settled on Marbled Lemon Squares from the Showstopper book, but as we don’t have, and find it difficult to get, ginger biscuits for the base I said I’d bake some whilst he was out (yes I realise this is overkill for a coding bet, but I think The Hub wishes to restore a little pride).
Of course, me being me, I can’t just bake one thing, so as we had some left over cooked beetroot in the fridge (from a trout, bean and beetroot salad from the night before) I decided to also bake a chocolate and beetroot cake.
On scouring the internet (well, I did a Google search) the general consensus seemed to be that Nigel Slater’s recipe from his Tender cookbook was the way to go. Helpfully someone had copied the recipe (its okay, I intend to buy the book) so I got to work with my trusty assistant, Dino Girl by my side.
There were several warnings about the amount of utensils and gadgets you will need. These should be heeded. I’m not sure how many bowls I used, but I used the food processor, the K-Mix to whisk the eggwhites, a bain marie, a whisk, a spatula and various spoons. Oh, and the coffee machine, as surprisingly (well, to me anyway), the recipe calls for hot espresso.
Into the oven it went, and surveying the kitchen, not for the first time in my life, I was grateful for the dishwasher.
So, after 40 minutes, out of the oven it came. It seemed rude to cut into it before the boys got home, but well, it was lunchtime and I’m pretty certain that a girl and a cake can’t co-exist in the same room.

It was……..delicious. Light and wobbly, wonderfully moist, chocolatey but not too much so, slight earthy tones of the beetroot. Okay I’ll stop. I sound like I’m pretentiously tasting wine, not eating a cake!
But I was pleased that even with 200g of dark chocolate, it wasn’t too chocolatey. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake. And I’m glad that I could taste the beetroot, albeit only slightly. I’m not a fan of hiding vegetables in things, even for the kids, so with this recipe I don’t feel like I’m tricking anyone (lentils in bolognese is a whole other story, however…).
Next time I’ll make it without the espresso, as I’m not sure it added anything to it, but I think this recipe is a keeper.

Nigel Slater's Chocolate & Beetroot Cake

Nigel Slater’s Chocolate & Beetroot Cake

Of course, I still have to make the ginger biscuits for the cheesecake and the cottage pie for dinner, but well, I’m sure there’s time for just one more slice……


That is how much apparently it costs for Lego Boy to become aware of the passing of time, to make him realise that its always better to do what you have to do, what you’ve been asked to do, before you do what you want to do.

4.95CHF: the price of an analog clock in Coop, the local supermarket.

We are lucky in that we now have space for a ‘school room’. Schoolroom implies that we do school work, that we follow a curriculum, but we don’t.¬† However ‘learning lab’ doesn’t sit well with me, neither does ‘education space’ or ‘work room’.¬† However it is a room with lots of books, a table, pens, pencils and a computer, so hopefully you get the idea of its function.

Every morning when Lego Boy gets up, he goes straight to his computer.¬† He loves watching lego reviews on you tube and checking out the lego website to find out the latest lego sets, their pieces (and their price, so he can figure out how long before he can afford to buy it).¬† Normally, this is by 7am/7.30am.¬† Any time before that and I suggest he goes back to bed (here we’ll gloss over how lightly I sleep that I wake at the slightest sound, maybe thats for another post).

I always¬† like to try and start ‘work’ at 9am, as we normally do a couple of hours, and therefore we can be done before lunchtime with plenty of time to get to the shops if we need to get something for lunch.
Before we start, I ask him to be dressed, have clean teeth, had breakfast and sorted out the chickens (not every day, as we take it in turns).  Even though he normally has at least 90 minutes to do these things, up until today he is normally so engrossed in the computer that at 8.30am I have to remind him what he has to do, and so it is always a rush and a bit stressy (I know that if we had a later start time it would still be the same thing).

This morning, having bought the clock and just put it in the room, with no reminder from me, at 8am he came downstairs stating that he was going to do the chickens so that he was ready in time.

I was speechless…..which takes a lot.

I know this may seem a small thing, and there are those of you who are wondering how I could possibly write a blog post about this, please believe me when I say that this morning everything just seemed so much calmer, and as a bonus all formal learning was done by 10.30, which meant I could plonk my self-pity at my cold on the sofa with my crochet and Murder She Wrote.

So, today’s Tip of the Day? Buy a clock.