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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

Serious Business | Flickr
Bounty Information | Wanted Dead or Alive: Mad Scientess Nanila
Deeds of Derring-Do | Full of Wild Inaccuracies and Exaggerations

Baking: BIRTHDAY! [20170215|17:19]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , , ]
[the weather today is |jubilant]

Today is Very Important Day. Today is Bloke's Birthday. And hence, there has been BAKING. Behold!

Star cookies (from the dough reserved at the weekend)
IMG_8757

That most American of treats, pecan pie (with toasted almonds, because I didn't have enough pecans, ho hum)
Pies, we made PIES!

And choccy biccies. Huzzah!
Choccy biccies

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1072721.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
linkpKa 4.0|titrate

Baking: Nigella Christmas [20170214|12:53]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , ]
[the weather today is |catbutt in my face]
[with a hint of |black books s03e06]

On Saturday I went back to an old favourite: Nigella’s Gold Dust Cookies. Which, I have to admit, I never make with the edible gold dust. It’s a great dough for cutting into shapes. And they taste great, as long as you halve the amount of vanilla in them. I find this is a rule of thumb with Nigella’s recipes from this era of her cookbooks.

Anyway, I made up the dough quickly on Saturday and wrapped it in clingfilm to chill. After the discomfiting events of Sunday, we baked them. I put both children on the our kitchen peninsula. We floured the work surface, rolled out the dough and they plied the cutters. Humuhumu made very nice hearts and ghosts. Keiki made wonky pumpkins and circles.

I’ve reserved half the dough so we can make more cookies on Wednesday for a Special Occasion.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1072402.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
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I thought I had sorrows to drown before the weekend. I should have known better [20170213|12:58]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , , , , , ]
[the weather today is |wiped]
[with a hint of |microwave goes ping]

The weekend started off well, with skipping Parkrun because everyone wanted a lie-in followed by preparation for Humuhumu's first ever sleepover. Her friend Dimples* and brother Dribbly* came for an afternoon playdate, followed by pizza for dinner and strawberry jelly for pudding. Dribbly went home with their parents. Humuhumu and Dimples watched Frozen together whilst dressed as Rapunzel and Elsa respectively. I was astonished to discover that Humuhumu, who watched with an almost ferocious concentration and entirely ignored Dimples' running commentary, has almost the whole film memorised. Not just the songs but the dialogue as well. The viewing was followed by a colouring session in the Elsa colouring book. Humuhumu strenuously objected to my idea that we should disassemble the colouring book so they could work simultaneously and instead they patiently took turns for half an hour until we declared it to be bedtime and they curled up together in the spare room bed.

I read a number of stories, but Dimples was way too excited for sleep. She routinely stays awake longer than Humuhumu, who is firmly attached to an 11-hour snooze every night. We heard quiet talking and sneaking into Humuhumu's room to fetch cuddly toys. After putting my foot down for the last time at 9:30 PM, I waited in our bedroom until the whispering died off. They were sound asleep within ten minutes.

Both girls were up by 7:15 the next morning. Dimples was a font of chat as she ate her crumpet with Nutella, whilst Humuhumu looked pale and distant, though happy. Dimples' mum came to pick her up with many thanks, and then we got ready for gymnastics.

It was badge week at gymnastics and Humuhumu earned her first Fundamental Movements badge. We put the certificate on the wall next to the bed, and she's currently deciding where she'd like to sew on the badge. We don't have a special gym bag for her yet, but it would seem wise to acquire one at this juncture.

Gymnastics ends in the middle of lunchtime, so I put the children in the car with their snacks to tide them over until we got home. About a mile and a half down the road, I suddenly felt something go wrong with the car. It felt like I'd abruptly shifted from fourth into neutral, though of course I had done no such thing. There was, unusually, a car behind me, so I put on my hazards, downshifted to second (not that it made any difference) and coasted into a layby next to a gate featuring a large hand-painted "BULL IN FIELD" sign, where the car promptly died. And wouldn't restart.

Did I mention it was snowing? And distinctly below freezing outside?

I took deep breaths. I rang the bloke, because I couldn't find my RAC (roadside assistance) membership card. The bloke texted me the necessary information. Some people on horseback went by and kindly told me the name of the lane we were in, as even though I drive the route every other week, I didn't know that particular one as it has no sign. I rang the RAC and ascertained that it was going to take at least two hours for them to get to us.

I took some more deep breaths and rang the bloke again. We agreed that him getting in a taxi to swap places with us was a good idea, as Humuhumu was very upset about the broken car and being hungry and cold. (Keiki went to sleep, being blissfully untroubled by any emotional attachment to the car.)

Our knight in shining silver Peugeot turned up with his woolly jumper, book, and crisps. We gratefully clambered into the functioning car and went home, where we all had hot chocolate with marshmallows in. And a good thing too, because it took the RAC nearly three hours to get to the bloke.

The RAC mechanic diagnosed the car as terminal. Our usual garage seems more hopeful. Fingers crossed we don't have to say goodbye to Sophie (our much-loved Citroën) just yet.

* Names have been changed.

On a more soothing note, here are two photos.

20170211_162938
Keiki and Humuhumu wrapped up in a fuzzy grey blanket, pretending to sleep on the kitchen floor.

Longcat
Longcat Telstar is astonished at his own length.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1072006.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
linkpKa 5.0|titrate

Friday's Unscientific Poll: Most effective sorrow-drowner [20170210|16:38]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, ]

Poll #2062819 Well, that was a week

Tonight

gin
1(10.0%)
whisky
9(90.0%)
linkpKa 2.0|titrate

Tales of the Countryside: A Canal Lock Gate Replacement [20170207|11:58]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , , , ]
[the weather today is |real live engineering!]
[with a hint of |goldfrapp - ride a white horse]

I’m sharing these photos publicly because I imagine a vanishingly small number of people have ever watched a canal lock gate being replaced. Let alone watched said activity from a bedroom window.

Last week, a crew from the Canal and Rivers Trust (CART) arrived to begin work on “our” canal lock. Obviously it doesn’t belong to us, but we feel a certain sense of pride in it since our cottage is right next to it. The canal lock gate was last replaced in 1996. According to the CART engineer who visited us a couple of months ago to tell us about the impending work, the gates, which are almost entirely made of oak, including the large posts about which they rotate, have a maximum lifetime of twenty years. After that, not only will the gate have warped despite mostly remaining submerged, but often the posts give way. The post on ours had developed a large, destabilising crack and no longer rotated properly.

20170131_110806
In this photo, the CART crew are setting up a large winch to manoeuvre both the old and new lock gate, arm, and post into position. One of the horses in the field opposite our house is watching them with interest.

20170131_114245
The new lock gate is lifted out of the barge and lowered into the canal opposite the old gate.

+4Collapse )

A temporary block was put in and the water allowed to drain from the lock. The water levels in the sections just above our lock were also lowered to help the workers install the new gate. I missed the next two days of activity due to being away for work and so when I returned, the new gate was in place and the fencing had been removed. At present, it looks like this:
20170207_094026

I presume at some point in future there will be a small amount of further work done to give the new gate the black paint that helps protect it, as well as the smart white paint that goes on the arm.

Since this is an activity that only happens every twenty years, I’m happy I was home to see it!

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1070850.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
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Child plus laundry basket full of clothes pegs equals....skirt?! [20170206|21:33]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , ]
[the weather today is |ded of cute]
[with a hint of |the humming of tiny fans]

20170205_084140
I asked Humuhumu to keep herself and Keiki amused with the laundry basket whilst I put away some freshly tumble-dried clothes.

As I was finishing up ten minutes later, she sang out to me, "Mummy, come and look what I made!"

And so I was greeted on the stairs by a daughter in her black heart hoodie, rainbow raindrop leggings, watermelon socks...and a skirt constructed from clothes pegs.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1070600.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
linkpKa 4.0|titrate

Baking: Lily Vanilli & Nigella Christmas [20170206|10:04]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , , , , ]
[the weather today is |ill]

I did a lot more baking than I'd intended this weekend. Saturday morning we did Parkrun, then came home and made pancakes & French toast for brunch for some friends. In the afternoon, the pre-schooler and I set to work making cupcakes. I have this delightful cupcake recipe book, Lily Vanilli: A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, which was given to me a few Christmases ago by sister-out-law. We've only once made one of the recipes in full - the meringue ghost cupcakes for Humuhumu's birthday, and that's when we learnt that the base recipes for the cupcakes and the icing are really good just on their own. The fancy ghoulish decorations are fun, but unnecessary.

We decided to make the pecan, cinnamon & nutmeg cupcakes and the vanilla icing. Humuhumu helped with the measuring and the pouring but lost interest while they baked in the oven. When we finally got to the icing stage, I didn't bother calling her back and started doing the icing and the sprinkles. My parents rang after I'd completed decorating three of the 18 cupcakes and I stepped away from the kitchen to take their call. I walked back in to find Humuhumu expertly applying both icing and sprinkles to the remaining cupcakes.

20170204_181007
[Photo: Humuhumu puts sprinkles on a freshly iced cupcake. There is cauliflower cheese baking in the oven behind her.]

I should note that today there are eight cupcakes left so I'm not expecting them to last more than 72 hours.

One thing I knew about Lily Vanilli's recipes but had somehow managed to forget was that her icing recipes make about double the amount of icing one can reasonably put on a single batch of her cupcakes. Either I should have halved the recipe or made 36 cupcakes. There was a lot of extra icing, which I was determined not to waste.

On Sunday morning, the bloke took the children to gymnastics and I scanned through my Nigella Christmas cookbook for a cake recipe. I settled on the sticky gingerbread, which is fancier than the ginger cake I normally make though still pretty easy, and is listed as "icing optional". The recipe is vague on length of time required in the oven - 45 to 60 minutes seems a rather wide temperature range. I took a punt on it and left it in for 52 minutes at 150 degrees C (fan on) and that turned out perfectly. After it cooled, I poured the remaining vanilla icing over it and we had slices of it at tea time. It was hoovered up by everyone and we have agreed that it is one we will definitely make again.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1070139.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
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Friday’s Unscientific Poll: Potatoes (Scottish style) [20170203|11:26]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, ]

Poll #2062409 Potatoes (Scottish style)

What is the best Scottish name for a potato-based dish?

Tatties
2(28.6%)
Clapshot
1(14.3%)
Rumbledethumps
4(57.1%)

Here is another good name for a potato-based dish:

linktitrate

Baking: Nadiya's Kitchen [20170130|12:36]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , , , , , ]
[the weather today is |yum]
[with a hint of |people working on the canal gate]

I only had a chance to try one new recipe from Nadiya’s Kitchen this weekend, and it was the one for “Ovaltine Bedtime Biccies”, which Humuhumu and Keiki helped with. I’m not a huge fan of Ovaltine so I substituted my favourite hot chocolate (Twinings Swiss Chocolate Drink) instead. I have no regrets. They have a smooth texture, are not excessively sweet and are terribly morish.

Humuhumu and Keiki were varying degrees of helpful. She’s very good at cracking eggs, and pretty good at measuring out ingredients and stirring. Keiki is very good at tasting things to make sure that they’re okay. After each addition, he says, “More taste…?” They are both good at flouring work surfaces (and themselves), and of course the greatest pleasure is rolling out and cutting up the dough with the cookie cutters. Keiki particularly likes the part where bits of dough cling to the cutters and have to be removed. Half of those go back into the dough for re-rolling and the other half go into Keiki.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1068431.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
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#tbt [20170126|20:51]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , , , ]
[the weather today is |wistful]

Dad & Mom at Waimea Canyon, Kauai
This is a scanned photo of my mom and dad with their arms around one another at Waimea Canyon in Kauai, Hawai'i. I love this photo partly because they both look happy, and partly because this is how they always appear in my mind. I know they have white hair and stooped shoulders now, but my brain fails to see that unless they're right in front of me, which doesn't happen very often since they live so far away.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/1067605.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
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