Sunday, 24 July 2011

Toby and...

Finally, a long-awaited blog post about Virginia!  I'm afraid you will have to wait a little longer to hear a little about all our fun activities (we fitted in beach and mountains, what more could you want on a holiday?) but the main purpose of the trip was to introduce Toby to some more of his family.  He charmed 'em all.

First, the most important: Toby meets Grandma (or Meemaw as she is known to her great-grands)

Of course, Grandpa (or Grampoo) was just as important, but didn't get quite so many cuddles owing to having heart surgery while we were there (you wouldn't know it, would you?)


It was the second time for meeting Uncle John, but Toby's changed a bit in 6 months!

Inspecting the James River with Aunt Kristal.



With a couple of my cousins, Lloyd and Ben.  At the rate Toby's growing he may rival their height one day.


With Great-Uncle Ben.


Walking in the woods with Great-Aunt Mary, who did a great job entertaining us in the mountains.  Thanks for letting us stay!


With Mary's mom Susan and assorted other members of her family.

Lots of legs!


Bedtime story with Meemaw

Looking cute all by himself, and doing his best to eat an unopened packet of cheese crackers.

Phew!  That was supposed to be the easy blog entry for the trip, but I'm still getting used to Blogger's new way of adding photos.  I'm sure it'll be easier... eventually.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Summer Soup



A few years ago my friend Laura made a chilled watermelon tomato soup for a picnic.  The unusual but delicious combination stuck in my head, and I recently decided to recreate it.  I looked up a few recipes on the internet but mostly proceeded by trial and error.  After much blending and pouring of pink slushy liquids, I came up with something quite tasty.  And very refreshing when the mercury is topping 100F day after day.




Chilled Watermelon Tomato Soup

1/4 of a largish watermelon
About 6 tomatoes (1 lb 4 oz or so), peeled
1/2 of a medium onion, or a shallot if one happens to be residing in your fridge
Handful of fresh parsley.  A bit of mint might be nice too.
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp of wine vinegar (I used white, but red seems to be generally specified)
Salt and pepper to taste








This amount pretty much filled my blender, which says it has a capacity of 1.5 litres or 6 cups.  That was 4 generous servings, or you could easily get 6 out of it, especially if serving it as a starter.

You probably know how reliable your blender is with large quantities; with mine it was definitely worth blending the watermelon first, then the tomatoes, onion and everything else.  Pour the watermelon slurry back in and give it a quick whiz to mix it all up.  This also has the advantage that you can adjust the sweetness, so add the watermelon gradually and taste as you go to see how you like it.

Finally, pour into summery glass bowls and garnish with crumbled feta cheese, olives, sprigs or mint or parsley.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Look what I made!

If you'll forgive a bit of bragging about my crafty exploits...

We had a couple of frames that I thought would work well in Toby's room.  All we needed was something to fill them.  Inasmuch as the room has a theme (we never did get around to decorating the nursery) it's probably insects.  There are a few slightly blurry stencils of dragonflies and butterflies on the walls, left by the previous owners of the house.  So I found some cheerful insect pictures on the internet, and enlarged them freehand from the inch-square originals.  Acrylic paint gave the perfect bold effect.



My sister-in-law Kristal has given us many beautiful sewn items, so for her birthday this year I wanted to give her something handmade too.  I discovered the technique of making pendants from glass microscope slides a few years ago, but after a frenzy of Christmas ornament making, I sort of forgot about it.  It was fun to take it up again, and this is the biggest project I've tackled so far.  When I got halfway through I was beginning to wonder why I'd ever started.  My soldering iron was one of those "ladies' tools" with a pretty pastel handle (yes, I know, but it was all the store had) and it was taking 5 minutes at a time to melt the solder.  Not what you want when you're trying to get fiddly little bits of chain into precise positions.  Finally I went to the store to buy a new iron.  The wimpiness of the old one was underlined when I noticed that one was 25 watts, compared to the 100-watt rating of my new model.  Moral of story: always go for the biggest, meanest tool in the shop.  Men have the right idea on this one.



I will get round to a blog on our recent trip to Virginia soon.  I just sifted through all the photos and don't have the mental fortitude to reduce 185 photos to one coherent blog post right now.  We had a lovely time and Toby was a big hit amongst relations, semi-relations and completely non-relations alike.  More to follow...