Shroud for a Nightingale

The last book I read was P. D. James’ Shroud for a Nightingale. It’s a novel from the Adam Dalgliesh mistery series. It was my forth P. D. James’ novel (I also read The Lighthouse, Cover Her Face, and The Private Patient), and clearly, she’s becoming one of my favourite authors.

The story takes place in the Nightingale House, where young women are learning the nursing skills. The plot complicates with sudden deaths of two of the students, and that calls for Dalgliesh’ expertise to identify the killer. One of my first association about this novel were that it actually had a similar feel to Agatha Christie’s settings (situated somewhere in the English country side, in a partially isolated community with medical skills and intriguing past of the characters). As a non-native reader, I was excited to read proper English. Lately, most of the English literature was writen in American English, and the difference here was outstanding. Considering the language, there were plenty of unknown expressions, and this was for me an important part of reading experience. It brought me back about twenty years to my first books read in English (A. Christie’s), and the ultimate joy of great misteries. To conclude, P. D. James is now officially on my favourites list, and I’m looking forward reading more of her novels.

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Winter Village Train Station

I made this for the annual Eurobricks’ Expand the Winter Village Contest VI. I bought the sand green roof and plates a couple years ago with a small rural train station in mind, and I finally found enough time and motivation to actually build it.
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The station lies in a rural area, and is not highly frequented, so the one platform is sufficient for all the train stopping at the station.

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Close to the station is a semaphore signalling post.

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The station is built from the rock found in a nearby quarry.

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Inside the station there’s a table used as a ticket booth. Behind the table is a small wood burning furnace to keep the place warm in the winters. On the other side there’s a bench for the passenger, and a small Christmas tree put up by the two employees of the station.

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More pictures can be found on my Flickr.

Practice makes perfect…

…or in my case, it doesn’t. Three months ago our baby turned one, and officially became a very little boy, although I still refer to him as a baby. So, the idea was to home-bake a cake for his birthday party. I knew immediately I want to do the carrot cake as it’s very simple and healthy because of the carrots. And because I like how the carrot cake muffins taste like. Just to be on the safe side, I made a trial cake a couple weeks before, and it turned out great. However, the actual birthday cake was made in the third attempt. I don’t know what I did wrong, but the second cake was not eatable. Before I make you change your mind about trying this super easy and delicious cake, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

Batter

  • 100 g soft butter
  • 250 g sugar
  • 300 g carrots
  • 3 eggs
  • 300 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cinammon

Cream filling

  • 50 g of vanilla puding powder
  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 250 mL milk

Instructions

First, I grated the carrots, and then add the sugar, flour, baking powder and cinammon to the mix. Separately, I melted the butter and beated in the eggs and added them to the mix. I mixed the batter until it was smooth (see on the picture). It’s not very wet, but not dry either, and it’s quite heavy. I baked it for about 25-30 minutes at 200°C. I’m using a round 28 cm in diameter tin, and this amount of batter fits it nicely.

While the cake is cooling down, I prepared the cream filling. This was actually my first time making the filling using puding powder, and it worked great. First, I mixed the puding powder with three spoons of milk, and than made the puding as instructed on the bag, but using only 250 mL of milk per 50 g powder. At the same time I mixed together the sugar and the butter, and added it to the puding. One thing to make sure here is to have the puding cooled down, and to avoid the crust on the puding, mixing should be done all the time. I was too busy mixing, and forgot to take some extra photos. This is it, the cream filling was done pretty quickly. I cut the cake in half, and used about half of the cream filling for a cream layer. The rest of the cream filling was used to cover the cake. I decorated the cake with chocolate letters, and some colourful sprinkles. It wasn’t the prettiest cake, but I have about 9 more months to practice for the second birthday cake.