Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pottering and eating

We did nothing but potter around the house and sit in the garden all weekend, so this round up is all about the food we ate.

After work on Friday, M marinated some chicken pieces with soy sauce then grilled them and served them with a finely chopped umeboshi plum paste. He also tossed mixed salad leaves with a sesame seed dressing he made with tahini, dashi, rice vinegar, soy sauce, caster sugar, toasted white sesame seeds and chilli powder. We drank buck's fizz with homemade freshly-squeezed orange juice.

On Saturday, M marinated beef in finely chopped lemongrass, black pepper, brown sugar and fish sauce then skewered them and grilled them (they were originally destined for the BBQ but thunderstorms and torrential rain put paid to that plan). He served the grilled beef skewers with rice noodles that he lightly stir-fried with ginger, dried shrimp, oyster mushrooms, spring onions and soy sauce.

Tonight's dinner will be Maryland crab cakes and salad, most likely followed by Alfonso mangoes.

Little Planet dined well too this weekend - beef ragu and cauliflower cheese, both made by Daddy. Her childminders are Indian and they feed her such delights as lentil dal, khichuri, pilau rice and spaghetti bolognaise.

Aren't we lucky girls!

And now I am off for a few days to Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid on business. Back to London on Thursday. Hopefully will be able to Twitter through the trip though.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Three day weekend

Saturday began with a leisurely hair appointment for me at the Aveda Institute in Holborn. Meanwhile, M also took Little Planet into town. He got takeout coffee from Carluccio's in the Brunswick Centre, then took Little P to play on the swings in the delightful Coram's Fields. He strolled over to Russell Square to show her the fountains, but she had fallen asleep so, while she napped in the buggy, M wandered through the Indian garden at the British Museum. By 11am, it was time for them both to meet me at Aveda. Together, we popped into Pages on Shaftesbury Avenue where we bought a mouli and some ceramic oven dishes. We stopped off at the newsagents on Old Compton Street for the FT and International Herald Tribune, then bought strawberry millefeuille, passionfruit cheesecake, olive bread and walnut bread from Princi on Wardour Street. We stocked up on macaroni and mozzarella from Lina Store and on Japanese rice, tofu and yuzu concentrate from Arigato on Brewer Street.

Back at home, we lunched on sandwiches stuffed with Red Leicester and Stilton cheeses M had bought during the week from Covent Garden's Neal's Yard Dairy. Both the Princi breads we used disappointed - too lightweight and bland for my tastes. While M worked, Little Planet napped then played all afternoon and I gave her cauliflower cheese for her dinner. Our Ocado order was delivered and Little Planet played with things as I put them away.

After Little Planet's bedtime, M cooked macaroni cheese with spinach and bacon, inspired by my favourite dish at Automat. Our Princi desserts were sublime, which was a relief after the disappointing bread. The millefeuille was flaky and the strawberries were sweet; the passionfruit was refreshingly tart. We ended the evening watching Scorcese's surreal but dated and stilted After Hours. Even the terrific shots of late night 80s Manhattan couldn't hold my attention and I fell asleep on the sofa.

Most of Sunday was spent at my mother's house. Little Planet was particularly whingy: she whined in the car seat, she cried whenever we turned our back on her, and she was particularly hysterical when we washed her hair before her bedtime - so much so that she threw up. This incident was traumatic for me, but within minutes she was happily playing on our bedroom floor as if nothing had happened. Thank goodness babies have short memories. But for the most part today, our happy girl played contentedly all day long. She crawled all over my mum's house and played with the new toys my mum had bought her.

After Little Planet went to bed, M roasted a chicken he had marinated in soy sauce, garlic, sugar and pepper. He dressed a salad with olive oil and yuzu concentrate. And we dipped the chicken pieces in two types of dips he made: one made with red chillies and fish sauce, the other made with grated ginger, lime and fish sauce. Then we re-watched Hirokazu Koreeda's Maborosi - perhaps not the most appropriate movie to watch on Father's Day as it features the life of a young woman raising her son alone when her husband dies.

M and I took Monday off as annual leave. We dropped Little Planet off with her childminders and then headed into town. We breakfasted at the Scandinavian Kitchen on Great Titchfield Street. M had a ham and cheese rye sandwich and I had a salmon and egg rye sandwich - both delicious. We shared a cinnamon bun with our coffees. It was nice sitting outside in the early morning sunshine watching people go to work. If we stay in London, then we would love to retire to an apartment on one of the roads off this street. It's low-key yet still in the heart of it all. I would also like to retire to Manhattan. Fortunately M would like this too. It's still a long, long way off, I know, but I like to dream. We're both city diehards, despite having grown up in the country (M in Shropshire and me in Kent).

Afterwards, we bought a nice bed in Selfridges (as you do!) - the kind of bed that will definitely last us for a long time. Then we went to the British Museum to view the Garden And Cosmos: The Royal Paintings Of Jodpur exhibition. It was tranquil, serene, meditative... I felt supremely rested strolling through this beautiful collection of paintings. We also meandered through the South and South-east Asian room at the museum looking at the Buddhist sculptures.

We decided to have Korean food for lunch so we went to Koba behind Charlotte Street. We've been here several times and the food is very good. We ordered an assorted BBQ, fried rice with kimchi and pork, assorted namool (beansprouts, spinach and sliced radish seasoned with chilli and vinegar), pamoochim (sliced spring onion with chilli and vinegar), and sangchoo (fresh lettuce to wrap our BBQ meats in, and seasoned soybean paste). We were stuffed, but as it was our day off, we headed back to Wardour Street and Princi for desserts and coffee: M had a lemon meringue tart and I had my favourite strawberry millefeuille. We bought some Kiehl's products from Space NK and magazines from Borders, then headed back home.

We relaxed at home for an hour or so, then headed out to pick up Little Planet. We played with her and we've just put her to bed. Now we're about to have vodka and freshly squeezed orange juice. We'll make homemade pizzas later on and watch a movie.

I am back at work tomorrow, but lucky M has another day off. He will be sorting out arranging builders and painters to come give quotations for various pieces of work we want doing on the house this year (fixing up the loft so we can use it for storage, re-doing the bathroom, painting the interior and exterior of the house) and generally pottering. He may come into town, he may not. He is a man of leisure.

It's nice taking odd days off on annual leave. I should do it more often.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I'm now on Twitter. Follow me from this blog in the sidebar, or on my Twitter site direct:

Planethalder @ Twitter

If you have a Twitter feed, please let me know so I can take a look.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fast, slow

The title characterises my weekend perfectly. Saturday was spent in a busy whirl of activity, accompanying my mother up to East Anglia to check on her house one last time, collect her car, hand over the keys to the estate agent and then drive four hours back down to London where she now lives permanently. We were both exhausted.

M, meanwhile, had spent the day at home in London with Little Planet.

Sunday epitomised just how lovely it is to have my mother now live not four hours away, but thirty minutes away: she was able to pop over to our house and spend the day with her grandchild. After the frenetic Saturday, Sunday was altogether extremely tranquil. M did bits and pieces around the house, while my mother, my daughter and I relaxed the entire day in the garden. And that was all we did. Bliiiissssss...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Happy 1st birthday

I feel so guilty. I have been in pitch mode at work (we are pitching for a new account) and have not had time to document on here a far more important event in my life: my baby daughter turned 1 on Sunday. She was surrounded by family and friends and had her first ever taste of chocolate cake. I was (pleasantly) surprised that the small piece of chocolate cake we gave her did not impress her much, and that she was far more eager for a bite of the less sugary Victoria sponge cake we had also baked. She was, of course, very happy with all her new toys. Happy birthday, my darling! You have made our life complete xxx

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chilled interruptions

As every parent knows, the concept of a "chilled weekend" takes on a new dimension once you have a baby. Before having a baby, M and I would spend uninterrupted time doing anything we wanted during the weekend. If we wanted to read the paper all morning, we could; if we wanted to lie in bed until late, we could; if we wanted to go into town and spend all day long drifting from one art exhibition to another, we could; if we wanted to watch a movie all afternoon, we could.

Now that Little Planet has graced our lives, we can still have such chilled moments but, unless she is sleeping, then they are just that - "moments". For example, we can still read the paper, but we read it in bursts; we can visit shop after shop, or exhibition after exhibition, but only if Little Planet does not become tired, cranky and bored; we can watch a movie from beginning to end, but only after she has gone to bed at night; we can have a lie in... but really only until 7 or 7.30am and even then only if we are lucky.

In short, we can do many of the things we used to do but in short bursts of time. With babies, you are always being interrupted. Sometimes these are glorious interruptions; other times, not so wonderful ;-).

This weekend, we spent a leisurely Saturday morning in Islington. Little Planet had her first taste of panettone at Carluccio's. Her response? "Hmmmm yum!" She is also beginning to say "Tanku" (Thank you) when you pass her something and has also begun to say "Na" (No) repeatedly while shaking her head furiously (the toddler years have begun!).

We also took her to the delightful After Noah toy shop where we bought some presents for her 1st birthday next week - a wooden shape sorter, plus a basket full of miniature play food (similar to the photo above) such as canned plum tomatoes, milk cartons, mineral water, baked beans and butter. She fell asleep in the pushchair, so M and I browsed the magazines and books in Borders and in Waterstone's.

We spent the afternoon at home. While Little Planet napped, M and I sat out in the garden and lunched on pitta sandwiches stuffed with hummus and tomatoes. Then we played with Little Planet when she woke up. We gave her a long bath and then spent a good hour before her dinner rolling around our bed with her - we chatted with each other and with her, while she clambered all over us or tried to bite us with her five sharp teeth... ouch.

After she went to bed, at 7pm, M and I had a barbecue in our garden of lamb chops, chorizo and tabbouleh. We stayed outside eating, drinking and chatting until 10.30pm.

On Sunday morning, we took Little Planet to have her hair cut (her third in her short life!) in Crouch End. She was fine and enjoyed playing with the toy cars the hairdresser provided to distract her. Afterwards, we bought some oranges and raspberries and visited M's sister nearby. There, we made fruit smoothies.

We returned home to give Little Planet her lunch and to put her down for her afternoon nap. While she slept, M and I sat in the garden again and lunched on grilled sardines and capers on toast. We then spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the garden with Little Planet in her Wendy house and reading the weekend papers when she was content to play on her own. M had made refreshing ginger and lemon drinks which we sipped.

Later on, before her bath, I took Little Planet out around our neighbourhood on her smart trike while M pruned the front garden. After putting Little Planet to bed at 7pm, M and I ate roast chicken with homemade potato salad and broad bean salad. I don't think we had the TV on at all this weekend, so lovely was the weather.

I wish the weekend could have lasted at least another day...