Sunday, April 29, 2012

Madness

(Mad Hatter)

I am very sorry for neglecting my blog.  Life seems to be so busy for me right now.  I feel as if I haven't had a true day of rest since last August...it's madness, really.  Teaching, busy holiday season, Seussical the Musical, and now Alice in Wonderland.  Yes...another play.  In case I haven't mentioned it before, I'm the costume and set director for my school's Intermediate (4th - 6th grades) Theater Club.  All of this, of course, on top of my day job as an art teacher, and trying desperately to keep my household running.   

(The Queen's Cards)

Only two more weeks until the production.  After that, I'm done...I'm saying no to anyone who asked me to fill my time with anything other than my husband, my daughter, and my 'fun,' personal, hobbies.  No offense meant to anyone, but I need to prioritize.  I need to recharge.  Life is slipping by me, and I haven't been able to enjoy it, to experience it.  My daughter is growing up right before my eyes, and I'm somehow missing it.  Why is it that I feel the need to say "yes, I'll do it" to everyone that asks?  I'm learning to say "no."  I truly hope the people in my life understand this. 

(The Cheshire Cat's Tree)

I am more than ready for Summer break....going to the pool, playing with my daughter, spending time outside in the garden, sewing some historical costumes. I haven't sewn anything for myself in months! Did you notice?  Four more weeks of school to go...and then I'm free.

(The Hall of Doors)

Also, I recently stumbled upon a blog called Fimby, and specifically this article on mission statements. I am starting to think about and focus on my personal mission statement, and my family's life mission statement. 

(Swiss Chard or Rhubarb)

What's important to us? What do we value? What are our life goals as a family? As an individual?  What do we want to experience?

(Radishes)

All of these busy nothings in our lives create life draining holes. We forget who we are. We forget who our spouses are. We don't truly know our kids.

(Our salad box - Butter Lettuce, Boston Lettuce and Spinach)

It's time to scale down, say no, rebuild, and make memories. I'm slowing down time by focusing on what truly matters to us.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Simnel Cake

I hope you had a lovely Easter Holiday!


I have a tendency to want to try outlandish, or long forgotten foods.  See my attempts here and here.  It fascinates me to think that I'm partaking in something that is a part of food-cultural history.  So, when I stumbled upon this recipe for simnel cake, a long forgotten (at least in my part of the U.S.A.) traditional Easter dessert, I was itching to get my hands in some flour.


I love that simnel cakes have been around, at least in Great Britain and Ireland, since the middle ages.  History says that they started out being a dessert that young servant girls would bake to bring home to their mother's on Sundays (called "Mothering Sundays,") when they were allowed to go home and visit their families.  Eventually, and I'm not sure how the transition came about, around the 15th century, this cake became a popular Easter dessert, the eleven balls of marzipan around the edge of the cake representing the eleven apostles (minus Judas), and the one in the center representing Christ.


It's very much an over-saturated cake, with a gooey, earthy consistency, sort of a mix between a fruit cake, a rum cake, and a pecan pie (minus the pecans).  It's good, but very rich...a little goes a long way.  I love the bits of cherries, raisins and currents, combined with citrus peels though...they give it a bit of tang.  The marzipan covering is like chewing extremely dense, not-so-sticky marshmallows (or play-dough, maybe??? I've never eaten play-dough, but if I had, I imagine it would have the same texture.)  I guess it's closest modern day cousin would be a fondant icing.  I wasn't really a huge fan of the marzipan, although it was fun to play with (again, sort of like play-dough.)  I made my marzipan from a combination of this recipe and this recipe, but I'm sure there are better ones out there.

I would love to know if anyone out there still makes simnel cake as a holiday tradition?




Monday, April 2, 2012

Hot Cross Buns


It's Spring Break and Easter week all rolled into one for me and Jane.  I always like to think, going into Spring Break, that I'm just going to be lazy and sit around doing nothing for the entire week...reading novels...watching period films...maybe doing a little bit of sewing for myself...in general, relaxing.  But, alas, it never turns out that way.  I never actually take a break and do something fun.  Jane takes play breaks all the time.  Why can't I be more like her? 

We did take a day trip to a local aquarium on Saturday, but in general, we aren't the type to take long vacations (not that I wouldn't want to, we just can't afford it...)  It's sad, but I've already written a to-do list a mile long.  Most of it involves sewing costumes and finding props for the "Alice in Wonderland" play I'm co-directing. 


It's funny how I've got this American work ethic ingrained into my head.  For some reason I think that before I can reward myself with any type of good or pleasant activity, I have to first come up with some sort of gruelling task, a whole day full of work and toil to balance out the frivolity.  For example, today was spent hand dying 13 tunics for the play, and then I rewarded myself by making hot cross buns (some would say this is more work, but I like to bake.)  I actually feel guilty if I spend a day doing absolutely nothing of consequence.  Pathetic!

(The chicken wire around the garden bed is to keep the hungry little rabbits out.  Strangly, it looks a bit like a prison to me in this picture... Jane likes to play under the cucumber trellis.)

I did watch "The Hunger Games" with Laura yesterday, but then I proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening working in my garden, planting tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and a few flowers.  I love gardening, but I was very sore by the end of the day...it's still work after all.  I haven't even looked at tomorrows list...but I know it will be just the same.  Why do I do this to myself?  Does anyone else have this problem?


Anyway, enough with my work-a-holic behavior... I have always been intrigued by the traditional Easter baked good, hot cross buns, but have never tried them until this year.  The recipe is from here. 


They are crisp on the outside, and light and airy on the inside.  They taste of spices, and citrus.  A little Devonshire cream and orange marmalade on top, and I was in baked goods heaven!  Not a bad reward for a long day of toil.