Posts from — June 2016

A tale of two chocolates. 5

June 29, 2016

I don’t know about you but this week has me feeling despondent. Is it “the age of foolishness…the winter of despair”? At every turn there seems to be a massacre, a miscarriage of justice, an environmental disaster, political miscreancy, the death of a musical icon, mass fear and hysteria. As the Brits would say – it’s doing my head in. On Instagram this week I vowed to vote for sunshine in the presence of so much rain, pain and gloom, but I’ve found it difficult. What is a girl to do? The only thing she can. Turn to chocolate.


It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of chocolate bark. I’m a huge fan of anything chocolate and ridiculously easy to make. The time from head (idea) to reality and back to head (through mouth) again is crucial. If it takes too long I lose interest and appetite. In the wake of all this depressing global news the therapy needs to be swift and I’ve created two versions of chocolate bark that are truly quick to make and delicious to devour. The biggest dilemma you have to overcome is : which one to make first?




Bark one is made using dark chocolate and flavoured with cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, chunks of crystallized ginger and freckled with cacao nibs. Dark, rich, spicy, crunchy. The spices are warming, the ginger sweet and jube-y, the cacao nibs give that delectable hint of espresso. As therapy this chocolate lets your cry, allows your bitterness, wraps you in a soft blanket and kisses the troubles away. It’s music by The Cure, it’s literature, it’s a cabin in the woods.




Bark two is made using white chocolate and flavoured with vanilla, passion-fruit powder, pieces of tropical fruit and topped with curls of roasted coconut. Sweet, creamy, exotic, luscious. The chewy fruits and coconut remind me of warm holidays and holiday cocktails, the sour passion-fruit powder and vanilla spice add complexity. As therapy this chocolate orders you to brush your hair, grabs you by the hand and takes you out dancing till morning. It’s your favourite 80’s movie, it’s the craic, it’s a drunken skinny dip in an ocean full phosphorescence.


[

In: Food, From Hannah, Includes a recipe!, Sweet Little Something

Anatomy of a Birthday Cake V 5

June 22, 2016

Here we are again (and again, and again, if you so desire). Another party, another cake, another story of how flour, eggs and butter become birthday magic. Only this time, Little e is old enough to help. It’s her brother’s cake, after all, and she takes it as seriously as she does all the rest of his things (that is: they are all hers first, not matter what).




I will admit I was a little nervous offering to let her help. At four-and-a-half, she’s often more hindrance than help in the kitchen, more fingers in the mixing bowl than volunteer dishwasher. And that’s fine. That’s expected. But with a time crunch (cake must be iced and assembled while birthday boy naps and before guests arrive), I wasn’t sure how well it would go. Would there be candy everywhere? Arguments about sticky fingers in the icing bowl? Morsels of cake going missing?

[

In: Food, From Ria, Kids and Parenting

So far. 8

June 15, 2016

It has been four and a half months since our littlest (and last!) was born. I thought you might like to know how we’re getting on…




Throughout the pregnancy this baby felt very different to the other two. We didn’t know her gender, so that was a constant source of pondering (a.k.a betting amongst family members). She gave ferocious, impressive kicks, every jab showing as she faced the “wrong” way – her spine to mine. Her chosen position proved problematic during the exiting process but I’ll spare you the details. These days she has the same penchant for doing things contrarily – only rolling from back to tummy instead of the other way around, which is the more common. Her diet preferences are Mum, thanks and Mum’s preferences are cake, so I think she is about 33% cake at this point. We’ve just started solids and she’s very keen on that business. I gave her a concoction that included broccoli, pea and spinach and she wolfed it down. We did a little baby to Mama fist bump about that. Her other recent development is making utterly delightful squeals. She’s been a bit less noisy and giggly than my other two, so far, so the squealing is quite addictive. While she might be more discerning with laughter she dishes out grins willy-nilly. She grins with her entire face – mouth, eyes, cheeks, ears. I call it the “you’re my favourite person in the world!” look. She gives it to her sisters, visitors, the butterfly kite hanging from her ceiling, the laundry basket and the couch. Indiscriminately cheerful. Perhaps world leaders should be made to cuddle smiling, squealing newborns every morning before starting the day. Surely the world would be a more peaceful place.

[

In: From Hannah, Kids and Parenting, Writing

Tofino: Haiku Love 4

June 8, 2016

A few years ago (yikes! years?!) I posted a sort of love poem to Vancouver, that city we love and left and still go back to whenever we can. And not that long ago, we here at F&F posted haiku weekly. Remember that? I miss those days. So I’m resurrecting the haiku habit for a bit of a love poem to the west coast of Vancouver Island, the little town of Tofino specifically, where we spent a calm and sandy few days not long ago. A private and historical island was open to the public (free boat rides!) for only that weekend, and the weather was uncharacteristically, brashly, hot and sunny. The kids were in heaven. The food was, as usual, worth photographing and eating out of order (ice cream before dinner, anyone?). Here’s to you, Tofino. With love.




Adventure awaits

just beyond the laburnum;

watch me chase it down.





Sandy toes, clam shells

and bull kelp stretched like noodles

(lasagna, not spaghetti).





Locked tight until fingers

pry it apart, the clam shell:

a surprise of nothing.





Happening upon

messages from other parents:

demand or desire?





Logs washed ashore

in fierce west coast storms: bleached, beached,

sun-warmed tree ghosts.


DSC_0051 copy


…And…your turn! How would you haikaption this photo? Leave a haiku or just a comment–hearing from you makes our day!





In: From Ria, Kids and Parenting, Seasonal, Travel, Writing

Puffin List 1

June 1, 2016


“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury


Ah travel, my old lover, I still remember you. Your dark-eyed exoticness, your mysteriousness. The fights we had, how wonderful it was to kiss and make up. The way you confronted me, the way you shared something beautiful just when I least expected it; the gifts and the challenges. I remember you when I am shouting at my kids to go to bed / get out of the bath / get dressed / not put wet cereal on the walls. I remember you when I am trying to go to the toilet by myself or have a shower without someone coming in to tell me they NEED! a snack. I remember you when folding laundry, packing lunch boxes, contemplating the leaking windows or the slowly rotting house piles. I remember our romance.


[

In: From Hannah, Kids and Parenting, Travel