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Muddy boots and signs of spring

2 Mar

Things have been a little busy in real life so I hope to catch up on my blogging soon. Thankfully, we had some nice moments this week to slow down and cut through the mania with some mud and signs of spring.

We’re lucky that our local park has some great puddles to splash about in at the moment:

Boots in puddle

Nothings beats a bit of a splash about. I think my daughter will be glad to get walking so she can join in the fun instead of watching from the sling! Happy wellies are muddy wellies:

Muddy boots

We were on the hunt for signs of spring so were delighted to find some snow drops:

Snowdrops

These delicate little beauties are truly one of my favourite flowers. It always gives me a little thrill to see their graceful heads nodding, reminding me that the days are lengthening and nature is springing back to life.

We also found a lovely bank of crocuses. Another subtle sign that the seasons are turning.

Crocuses

Today we headed off to the Maple Sugar Festival at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham, NJ. It was a tremendous amount of fun. My associations with maple syrup were all with Vermont and the like (basically places I’ve never been!) so it was wonderful to realise that our New Jersey patch also has a fine tradition of maple syrup (I guess I now understand why our town is called Maplewood!).  There were some great nature tables for my son to explore as well as crafts. Here he is sporting the rather dashing mask he made: Mask

We also saw a plant new to me:

Skunk cabbage

I thought it was beautiful, with its scarlet fronds creeping through the swampy leaf litter. My husband recognised it immediately, the striking (but stinky) skunk cabbage. It’s a good reminder that beauty comes in all shapes (and smells!).

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Sunday catch-up…and how to make crunchy peanut butter cookies

29 Jan

It’s been a hectic week. I’ve barely had time to go on the internet, let alone do any blogging!

I’m 32 weeks now. Last weekend I had a major panic about getting ready for the baby and preparing for a vbac. So I’m happy to look back at the progress we’ve made over the past week – we’ve booked a doula, properly started our hypnobirthing practice and are almost “officially” booked into the hospital’s birth centre. We’ve also started decluttering the flat to make some space for the new person who’ll join us soon. All this while I had a terrible head cold. I always forget how bad head colds are when pregnant – I actually had to take a day off sick on Wednesday as I just couldn’t get out of bed!

Today was a lovely lazy Sunday, with the morning spent at Finsbury Park’s playground. After my son’s nap we spent the afternoon making very tasty peanut butter cookies.

Here’s me and my son doing some stirring, with the kitchen looking relatively tidy (it was soon a bombsite of rice krispies and licked spoons!):

But the end result more than justified the tidying up:

It’s such an easy recipe, and so much fun to make with a toddler, that I thought I’d share it here:

Crunchy peanut cookies

Ingredients (makes approx 20 cookies)

1 medium egg
100g/4 oz unsalted butter (quite important to use unsalted, as most peanut butter has added salt)
100g/4 oz soft light brown sugar
100g/4 oz crunchy peanut butter
150g/5oz self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g/2oz rice krispies (we actually use Waitrose own brand puffed rice cereal, as it’s lower in salt)

1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees C, 375 degrees F, gas mark 5. Lightly oil a baking tray or use grease proof paper. If you have them, prepare two baking trays. Otherwise, just use the same tray twice and do two rounds in the oven. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Put the rice krispies on a plate.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl. Once creamy and smooth-ish, add the egg a little at a time beating it as you go. Beating it after each bit of egg stops it getting too lumpy.

3. Add the peanut butter and stir until it’s well mixed. Then sift the flour and baking powder over it and stir everything together.

4. Scoop up a teaspoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball.

5. Roll the ball lightly across the rice krispies to coat it. Flatten it slightly and place on the baking tray. Repeat until your tray is full.

6. Bake for 20 minutes (check after 10 – 15 minutes). Once they’ve cooled they’re delicious with a glass of cold milk.

This recipe appears in the wonderful The Usborne Cookbook for Children