It feels like Spring is starting to arrive to little ole England. We have had a few days this week where you can feel it coming. The light is brighter the shadows are changing, bringing a small taste of what is to come.
But colder weather is returning again this weekend, you can feel it already. The cottage was very chilly this morning. Yesterday the sun was streaming down, this morning the sky is dark and a stormy powdered steel. It has been raining steadily since very early this morning. The back and forth of the weather isn’t giving the plants a lot if chances, they all seem a bit confused.
I walk by this tree every day and it has had blooms on it all through Christmas and is still blooming now.
Its branches are dotted with miniature cotton candy pink starry shaped blooms. They are so delicate. I shot this with my IPhone and I liked the fact that I wasn’t tall enough to get the blossoms in full focus, it kept putting the branches in the background in focus, it gives it almost an ethereal appearance.
I love this tree! It’s these little things along the way that make you smile, drops of beauty scattered throughout your day, if you look for them.
I know this photo is a little grainy, but today I don’t mind. I was working in the main studio yesterday, which is nestled on the third floor of the main school building and overlooks the park across the street.
I like to people watch from my little perch while I’m doing things. There are always the sounds of children playing and laughing, joggers, friends meeting for a chat on one of the benches and there are always dogs. Sometimes I feel like Pongo in 101 Dalmations, watching the dogs and their owners stroll by. Do you remember that scene? Where the dogs and the owners walking by the window of his flat, look like one another, I think that is true.
I watched this elderly man meander down the path yesterday, his little dog leading the way. They both walked with a certain gait, they both kept their heads bent down. If you put a tiny cap on that dog, he could have been the furry version of his owner. Ever so often if the man slowed the little dog would turn around and look at him waiting for him to catch up.
He would run back to check on his master every now and then, jumping up slightly to lick his hand. When the elderly man finally decided to rest and sit down on a park bench, his dog jumped up right beside him and sat on his haunches. The two of them sat there in agreeable silence and watched the world go by. I liked it.
The first 4:45 wake-up in over a week! I don’t know what was worse, the fact that the alarm was going off or that I was lying there waiting for it to happen, watching the minutes slowly tick away.
It was cool here this morning and something happened in my week off, the sky has started to brighten earlier than before. One week ago it was still dark on my journey in, this morning the sky was ribboned with pale blues, blush pinks, violet purples, mangos and gold. Spring is coming!
It was a long day back, the first day always is. I stayed late, got caught in rush hour tube traffic. I was pushed, smushed and stomped on. I’m telling ya mean people are MEAN! I then had to walk home in the rain and got absolutely soaked through! Well it can only getter better from here, right? RIGHT!
P.S. This was my calendar page this morning, it made me smile! I hope it makes you smile too!
We had lumberjack sized blueberry pancakes this morning for breakfast. They were heavenly! While the pancakes cooked, I worked on turning our leftover spicy carrot and celery slaw into a pasta salad. Made homemade pimento cheese and threw a couple of chicken breasts into a buttermilk marinade for the fried chicken I am making tonight in our new cast iron skillet!
Last night we made these buffalo chicken burgers, with a few minor changes. I used turkey instead since I can’t get ground chicken at my grocery store and I was so busy singing to a song I was listening too that I threw the chopped green onions in with the onions that were sauteing, instead of putting them in the slaw, but that was just fine. I also didn’t put any blue cheese in the slaw, but we did put cheese on top of the burgers, which I cooked in the oven and we toasted our buns so they would withstand the juicy slaw. So, I guess I really made more than a few changes.
Anyway it was delicious! So I made another batch of the slaw added it to the small amount that was left over, threw in some pasta and viola, pasta salad for our fried chicken picnic tonight! I love having cooking days where you can accomplish so much in a good space of time and this will help set us up for the week, because the first week back after a break is always a doozie!
Tonight is date night! And while I am still enjoying it, I just couldn’t wait to blog about dinner! I have wanted a Lodge cast iron skillet for ages, but in the many things that I always stuff in my suitcase to bring back to London, I could never truly justify putting a large heavy skillet in my suitcase, since all of my bags are usually marked HEAVY anyway. The skillet is where Mr. Michie drew the line.
My Nana has had her cast iron skillets for over 50 years and they are still beautiful! So, when I saw this gorgeous Lodge skillet at West Elm yesterday, it just jumped into my hands. Now, I broke all of my Southern upbringing rules today, because the first thing I should have been cooking in this pan was either fried chicken or a fresh batch of biscuits. I went to my Italian roots instead and the first thing we made was a cast iron skillet pizza.
It is a recipe I mentioned in my post yesterday. I used my favorite dough recipe from Annie’s Eats, although it isn’t quite her recipe any more. I have made it so many times and have incorporated elements from an Ina Garten recipe I like and some of my bread making techniques.
Mr. Michie made a delicious fresh sauce with wispy strips of basil ribboned through it, while I rolled out the dough. I was in charge of pizza making, he was in charge of pizza cooking. Now, just like the gorgeous Jessica, I don’t own a pizza peel either. So, we improvised, I wasn’t a Girl Scout for nothing!
Once the pizza hit the blazing hot pan, dinner went 1,2,3, literally! In 3 minutes we had dinner and you would have thought that we cooked it in a wood oven grill in our backyard, not in a cast iron skillet under the broiler!
It puffed up, some of the edges charred, the cheese was perfectly melted. We let it set up for a few minutes and then transferred it to our cutting board. Mr. Michie cut it and we couldn’t even wait to get it onto plates before we devoured the first slice. Oh My God! I don’t think we can ever go back to our normal pizza methods ever again! This was fantastico!
On a side note there was a bit of smoke, so while Mr. Michie took care of the pizza, I had the front door ajar and was busily fanning our smoke detector. It was like an “I Love Lucy” episode in here for a few minutes. Also, one section of the pizza stuck to our skillet, so next time I might need to use a bit more flour. I managed to get it all out and after re-seasoning my pan, it looks as good as new.
What a perfect date night. The pizza was so good we never even bothered making the salad or opening the wine. We split a beer, listened to music and ate dinner by candlelight! What could be better?
Well, another wonderful store from home has arrived in London: West Elm! It has been on my “To Visit” hit list for awhile now and today we did! I am a huge Williams-Sonoma fan, and to have this little piece of them in London is fantastic! Now, if we could only get a Williams-Sonoma store and Pottery Barn here that would be even better!
We were taking the day as it came and attempted to go to a photography exhibit that was fully booked, so we decided to let our feet take us in a shopping direction instead.
First to Anthropologie to do a bit of present buying and then a trip down Oxford Street with West Elm being our last stop.
It is beautifully laid out. As per usual my favorite section was the kitchen area. I walked away with a Lodge cast iron skillet and a beautiful shiny Nordic Ware professional kitchen loaf pan. Mr. Michie was happy as I set him up in the coffee shop, he quite happily drank a, in his words, perfect flat white and perused the internet on his phone.
Knowing he had made camp and was smiling, meant I could truly relax and enjoy a bit of shopping. Now, he is amazing, I have to say, I am really lucky because he does enjoy shopping and never minds how long I take in a store. But, I never want to take advantage of that generosity, so knowing that I had left him with a good cup of jo and a cozy place to sit and that he was happy, made me very happy!
First things first, I plan to try a recipe in this new cast iron skillet of mine that I saw on the lovely How Sweet Eats blog, it is a brussels sprout and bacon cast iron skillet pizza. I think we will be making the pizza sans brussels sprouts, it is the concept that I like. So I think tomorrow’s date night is planned, we just have to pick a good wine!
Thank you for coming to London, West Elm! You have made this girl truly HAPPY!
I love this image. I wish I could throw open my windows, stick my head out, purse my lips into a whistle and have a herd of animals come and clean for me! We seem to spend half of every school break really attacking the cottage. Yesterday we cleaned all of upstairs. Dusting everything in sight, going through all of the closets and reorganizing clothes, gathering a collection to take the the charity shop and putting up a few of our heavier sweaters, because in this weather we don’t seem to really need them.
We scrubbed, mopped and polished our way out of the bathroom as well. We did all of this while also tackling “Mount Laundry”. We have almost defeated it! Now, don’t ask me why, but as we move closer to a school holiday, you would think that things would become a little less chaotic. In fact it is the exact opposite. The closer we get the busier, crazier, more late nights we have than ever before, so everything in the house just seems to pile up.
The upstairs of the cottage is entirely clean, now the downstairs needs a good once over. So, I suppose that is my day laid out for me already as I did attempt to whistle out the window this morning with no luck! I guess the woodland cleaning company is on holiday as well!
I love orchids. I have the perfect windowsill for them in the cottage and they are incredibly happy there. I have a gorgeous snow white one and a deep purple velvet one. My snow white orchid has just finished blooming. We had big snowflake colored blooms all through Christmas.
Mr. Michie gave me another orchid for Valentine’s Day. It is a sunny yellow with a sprinkle and speckle of deep aubergine inside. It is definitely the sunshine on my windowsill with all the rainy days we have been having.
Here’s a few things I’ve been pinning to my Valentine Board. I am so excited that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! I am working on making a very special dessert as my contribution to our Valentine’s dinner date!