While flicking the duster around The Kitchenmaid over the weekend I realised I had failed to acknowledge some recent compliments. So it’s with some shame and embarrassment that I very belately thank Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe, Lyndsey of Vanilla Clouds and Lemondrops and Aine of PeasoupEats for passing on a Stylish Blogger award. It’s obvious that none of these lovely bloggers have ever met me, since I mostly blog in my pyjamas (and it would be stretching the Trade Descriptions Act a long way to call them even remotely stylish).

Just the usual serene breakfast scene at our place

However, I am very pleased to be able to pass this award on to seven other blogs I admire. But first, to prove that I occasionally have a life outside the kitchen here are seven random things you might not know about me…

1. I have never learned to ride a bike. Actually, that’s not entirely true. About five years ago, in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Laos, the BW and I needed to get somewhere and bicycling was the only option. Somehow, with his unfailing optimism and calm demeanour helping me through it, I managed to ride eight kilometres to a World Heritage temple and then ride back again. I still have a dent in my left thigh from one of the most spectacular falls (something to do with a truck, a goat and a large ditch) but our marriage is still intact. Mostly. I really do need to learn, I know…

2. I am the youngest of 10 children. Other people find this incredibly odd and ask all sorts of personal questions when they find this out. To me it’s no weirder than being an only child or the bog-standard three children + dog (but imagine the horrified silence if you said to an only child, “wow, so I guess your parents really hated children” etc).

3. I’ll eat just about anything, except horse. Or spiders. Or rodents. Or McDonalds.

4. I developed a taste for beer, especially high alcohol European beers, when pregnant.

5. I love eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations (and looking in their shopping trollies).

6. In the course of my work I have spent time in a small hotel room with Boris Becker, swum with whales in Tonga and chased the Samoan rugby team across Paris.

7. I am married to an identical twin, whose twin brother is also married to someone called Lucy.

Now, here are seven lovely blogs you should visit when you get a chance…

My Darling Lemon Thyme – Emma, a Kiwi chef-turned-mother in Perth, Australia, who makes allergy-friendly food and takes beautiful photos of it to boot.
As Strong As Soup – Phil, who lives in Surrey, England, and writes the funniest blog comments ever (along with some fine recipes).
Sasasunakku – Sasa, global citizen, soon to be gracing New Zealand with her presence, leading the charge against ‘hangrr’.
Bibberche – Lana, who I found on Twitter, has a blog as big as a bible (and it’s twice as entertaining)
Toast – she doesn’t ‘get’ cheerios, which is just one of the reasons why Mairi, transplanted to Auckland, is so great.
Milliemirepoix – The mysterious M has a vast collection of food and travel experiences and she shares them generously.
Bread and Milk and Blackberries – Ruth’s blog is my newest find. She likes bread and milk and blackberries and all things Scandinavian. What’s not to love about that?

Objects of desire

I don’t think John Lennon can have been much of a cook. I mean, really. “Imagine no possessions, it’s easy if you try”? When we moved house last year most of our boxes were full of kitchen-related paraphenalia (or books with a strong food theme). Since then I’ve tried to be less acquisitive but every now and then I get strongly tempted. Here are a few of the latest things on my wishlist…

Milk measuring cups, from Anthropologie

A proper teapot from Divertimenti

A beautiful copper bassine from Millys

Ah well, dreams are free, aren’t they? And they don’t take up much room in your kitchen either. What have you got your eye on at the moment?

One a penny, two a penny…

I’d like to tell you that I’ve invented the best hot cross bun recipe ever, but that would be a terrible lie.

These ones pictured are Nigella’s recipe, which I first made the year we drove around Europe in a small red car with a cheese knife and a corkscrew in the glovebox (we had a sack of flour and other sundry foodstuffs on the back seat). I’ve never made them with such success since, but perhaps my changed lifestyle has something to do with that.
Unsurprisingly, I think St Delia has the best recipe, or at least the one I’ve found to be the best. The only advice I can give you is to go easy on the cinnamon as it retards yeast development and make them somewhere warm.
We were only allowed hot cross buns on Good Friday when I was growing up and I mostly stick to the same rule. So tomorrow I’ll be attempting to make them in a breadmaker at my parents’ house… since they’ll be the first of the year, they better be good!

Do you have any hot cross bun secrets? Let me know! In the meantime, have a wonderful Easter and a happy weekend x

One ring to rule them all

There are just 15 sleeps to go until The Wedding and my party preparations are shamefully behind schedule. In all honesty, it’s because I’ve been spending most of the time admiring this very special part of my costume.

Isn’t it a beauty? Even if I don’t get around to anything else, at least I’ll be able to gaze at it as I sip my Pimms in front of the TV on April 29. I think I got the last one in Australasia, but you can always try your luck here.

Are you doing anything to celebrate the royal nuptials? If you are, don’t forget to enter this month’s Forever Nigella challenge, which has a Street Party theme. Oooh, and nip over here for some free printable bits of party kit (with thanks to party organiser extraordinaire Emma of Frog, Goose and Bear for the tip!). And do let me know if you have the secret to un-soggy cucumber sandwiches…

My creative space: Reality check

Whoever invented multi-tasking has a lot to answer for. Lest you think I sit in splendour, languidly composing these posts with nothing better to do, here is a reality check:

This is my kitchen/workspace as of about 2.30NZT. In the oven, slow-cooked tomato and beef stew is gently bubbling in a a fake Le Creuset casserole. On top of the oven is a roasting dish filled with charred muesli (I forgot about it while I was reading the Small Girl a story). The pantry door and adjacent drawers are open because I was making aforementioned stew and muesli at the same time as the Small Girl was wanting to a) put an apron on, b) take an apron off and c) have a story read to her.

On the bench are various bits of detritus, including a bowl of beef stock, half of a marrow that I decided wasn’t fit for the stew and a bowl of the less burned bits of muesli.

The island is swamped by two unread newspapers, two recipe books, a dozen eggs I rescued from the helping hands of the Small Girl, several unpaid bills and a bag of castors for the futon (don’t ask me what they’re doing there, I have no idea). You can’t see it, but I know my laptop is steaming with two unfinished commissions (deadline approaching), about 50 emails requiring thought/action and a bunch of stories that need editing.

I won’t show you the rest of the house, but it’s just about the same. And my in-laws are coming tomorrow. Where’s a fairy godmother when you need one?

Hope your Thursday is proceeding in a more orderly fashion. See more organised, creative peeps here.