Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Madeleine Madness And Sunburn

Friday night, the most fabulous thing happened to me. I have been reading Romancing The Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and as a result (if you have read it, you will understand!) I have been wanting to make her Madeleine recipe. Well, I have been, only in little cupcake cases as I have not Madeleine tins. and while they taste lovely in cupcake cases, I have been long convinced that they would be better in the little shell shapes.

Well we were going to see a film (Inside Man, rather good) and before it started we had some time to spare, so took a walk about the shops. We were in Le Creuset looking at the odd bendy silicone cake moulds, when Lo! Behold! Madeleine cases appeared before my eyes! And the bakeware was on buy one get one free...so I did. I now have bendy bendy Madeleine moulds and mini jam tart moulds.

The madness is this though. On the delightful rainy Sunday afternoon (gentle rain so we could open the window and smell the soft sweetness of it and hear the gently shush of it) I made Madeleines in my new moulds, having watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice on dvd and done needlepoint and knitting (just to set the mood!) and the cakes were lovely. I know it is not modest to say so, but they were nice. Monday was the day from hell. I had an interview that went badly, I spilled coffee on my lovely interview dress; I blew the bulb in our bathroom at home (rendering me in pitch darkness as we have no window in that room!) and a hundred and one other little things went wrong. I had a friend coming to visit, so I made some Madeleines. And they sank. Oh, they flopped. And they stuck! They stuck to the silicone! And when they cooled...lets just say that they were more like fossilised sea shells than anything else! I suppose you win some and lose some...I just wonder if they can pick up on the atmosphere? They were happy to rise and bake merrily in a Pride and Prejudice soaked afternoon, but not on a harassed Monday night!

Our other adventure was a glorious walk on Saturday. It was sunny you see, so we drove to Goldhanger, and decided to walk along the sea wall. Dear Carl said that although it was a long walk there was a pub at the end where we could have a lovely pub lunch. Well, we walked. And walked. And walked. Two hours later, there was no pub in sight. Just miles and miles more sea wall. And mud. And birds. So we turned around, and walked, walked, walked all the way back! After four hours of walking, I did not realize it at the time, but I had caught the sun. Most amusing really, as I have a little red nose, and a white patch on my chest where my locket was!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. If my Madeleines work tonight I shall post the recipe tomorrow. As I said, they can be made in cupcake cases if you don't have a seashell shaped Madeleine mould~but I rather think finding the moulds is an adventure worth having!

Monday, 24 April 2006

Friday, 21 April 2006

Mimi Says

Some of you may know that I am the Mimi who writes Mimi Says for Brocante Home. As Brocante Home is taking a bit of a break, I have started another blog at blogspot- http://mimisaystoday.blogspot.com (mimi says was taken already, rats!) to post Mimi Says on. They wont be terribly regular, but I do like writing them. When Brocante Home is back, I will be back there too, lovely Alison allowing! Anyway, just that....thanks...

A Thought

While I was walking along to work this morning, I had A Thought.

Many of you read lovely Alison at Brocante Home, who has just decided to have a little restorative break (miss you till you're back, sweetie!). I think a lot of us read each other, having found each other, as it were. Lovely Wendy has had her computer die, and equally lovely Kristy is not going to be blogging as much for a little while, while she does 'other things'.

And most of us have, at some stage, said that while we love the friendships we are developing online, sometimes, blogging can be a little demanding.

Now I have no intention of not blogging, I do love it, and I am so glad I have come so far into the year and am still blogging. But what I was wondering is this...

It may sound silly, but I do miss it when you, my favourite blogging girls are not around. Of course I understand you have lives and are busy, but I do love reading you! At the same time I do not want to think that anyone feels pressured to blog, blog, blog. So I started thinking about pen pals, but then, writing so many different letters will be just as much work, if not more than blogging.

This led me to think about this. What if, once a month, each of you sent to me a little something to share with everyone else. Perhaps a little open letter, just saying what you have been up to. Perhaps a recipe you have made, perhaps a photo of something, perhaps just a short ramble, anything. I was thinking it would be nice to have it on paper, so it would be more a step away from computers, and back into the world of correspondence, paper, pens and so on, but if the computer makes it easier, of course you could email me. I could make a copy of each thing I receive, and once a month send out a little bundle of loveliness to each of you. That way, we could all keep in touch without any pressure or hassle; and of course, if you didnt make it one month, I wouldn't throw you out!

Just as a musing, I know this has some rough edges, but what do you think? Maybe say that if you send me your things by the first Friday of the month, and I will send them out by the the second? Or any other date mutually agreeable?

Now this is an open invitation to all of you fabulous girls, many of whom I have met through Brocante Home, and Alisons list of links. Below is a list of you who I read regularly, so it is particularly open to you. But so many blogs I have stumbled on by serendipity, so if I have missed you, it is only by mistake! And also, many of you I do not have email addresses for. Please point anyone you think should be included who I have missed in the direction of this post- just leave me a comment if you are interested, and if enough people are interested, I shall post my email address, then we can get into adress swaps and so on. I am thinking I would like to keep numbers not exclusive, but manageable, if that makes sense?

Anyway, people I read....and apologies to those of you I have not found yet!


Oh, there are more of you, I am certain! I just cannot dredge the links from the top of my mind...more later...but do, do let me know!

Early Morning Thoughts

Last time I posted, I was talking about how much I like the late night in the library. Well, almost as much I love the early morning. Today is my half past eight start, which I know is not as early as some people have to work, but that half hour does seem to make a difference. I came out at half past seven this morning, so I could enjoy the walk in, at that magic time when everything seems fresh and new still. There are veritable fountains of violets frothing up in many of the gardens I pass, which is bliss. The park was empty, and slightly cool, and quiet. I had breakfast upstairs (there is a canteen on the top floor of our building, with fabulous views) and sipped coffee before coming back downstairs.

I am on the upper floor of the library, which is always slightly quieter than downstairs, thanks to the mobile phone ban! It is quiet now, apart from the fan and the sound of people softly tapping on keybords. The big, old maps are resting in the map cabinets, and everything is peaceful. I like it like this. At about nine, it will start to busy, but I do like a few moments, early on, to contemplate the peace of the day.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Hush In The Library

This (6.30pm) is one of my favourite times in the library. I only have to work this late once a week, but it still makes me a little tired. Nine-till-Seven is a long day. But I love it, when it gets to this time. There is a quiet hush in the air, amongst the books.

Oh, there are still people here, we are still busy, the phone still rings, but it as if we are slowly winding down, ready for the rest that comes at seven o'clock. No doubt someone will scurry through the doors with five minutes to go, and be desperate to do what they have left till too late- to use the internet, or the photocopiers, or start an involved query. But at this time of day, mostly, the people who are here are here because they want to be. Because they got up this morning and planned to drop into the library on the way home from work. People working on projects, looking for a new book to read, wanting to work quietly.

This time of day is bliss. Today has been long, but I know when I get home, dear Carl will have cooked a little something delicious for tea. I nearly always get right out of my clothes and into my dressing gown as soon as I get home. Take down my hair if I have put it up, wash the day off of my face, put on my slippers, and always, always, have a cup of tea.

Maybe it is a little perverse, but on the weekends I have to work Saturday, and on my late night to work, I always seem to get more out of the time I have- perhaps because I know I do not have much? A philosophical thought for this time of evening!

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. If only you could have been peeking through my window Easter morning. Carl, like me, is not into commercialism at all. We both value the home-made and the vintage, and the thought, most of all. Turns out Carl had been all over town to try and find me a Cadbury Buttons Easter Egg, as I remember loving the little bunny carved into the side, and how the buttons came inside the egg, in a scrunchity cellophane bag when I was a little girl. Well it seems he looked and looked and could not find one, so decided to do something a little different. He handed me a large shoe box, wrapped up in paper. I was told not to tip it, and open it carefully. I nearly dropped it! A soft toy snake (that usually lives near our real snake's cage!) was on top of a deep layer of sawdust. And scattered amongst the sawdust were little treasures for me to find! Being nervous of poking my fingers into things I could not see, I ended up stabbing hopefully with a knitting needle!

We were also lucky enough to be given a home made simnel cake by my lovely, lovely Mum.

Happy Easter Everybody!

Saturday, 15 April 2006

Gifts of the Season

Oh I do hope you are all having a scrumptious and happy Easter weekend. I got up early yesterday morning to bake hot cross buns. Although I love them, I do hate that they are in the shops the whole year round. I think they should be special for Easter, or people will forget what they mean.

Anyway, I found myself in the kitchen, and as my dressing gown sleeves were too long to do kneading in (ever get the urge to just get up and bake? I hope it is not just me!) so I wore the fabulous Victorian style nightie I was fortunate enough to find in Tesco of all places! I love to knead, it makes me feel really connected with what I am making. I was pleased with how this recipe turned out (from the latest issue of Country Kitchen magazine) and shall be making them again next year.

A quiet but delicious day. It rained a little, and our little flat was full of the smell of spicy little buns baking and coffee percolating, and I watched Merlins Apprentice and knitted on my dishcloths (Chinese Waves again, but I am trying Garter Stitch Lace next!). So peaceful. Then in the evening we went to see dear Carls family. We took them an Easter Basket I had made up- a pretty yellow plant, a knitted chick each, a bag of mini eggs in the bottom, and a hot cross bun each. They are not long back from Amalfi (how I long to go Italy in April!) and bought me the most beautiful scarf- I was so touched. I wanted to wear it to work today, but could not decide what to wear with it, so am leaving it till another day. It is very pale pink, almost net material, embroidered over with darker pink rosebuds, and the edge is scalloped in green. It needs a very plain dress with it I think.

Who knows, soon (fingers crossed!) I may be posting some pictures on here...

So here I am at work this Easter Saturday. We have had more people in than I hoped for, which is nice. I spent my morning tea break making up clues for Carls Easter Egg Hunt tomorrow (I have gone for a Da Vinci Code theme- most of them are in code!) and my afternoon tea break reading The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg, recommended by the ever lovely Alison at Brocante Home. I am not very far in, but oh! How I am enjoying it. It is delicious. Only just now, I was reading about how she (the main character, Betta) has spent her life decorating windowsills with odds and ends- 'the gifts of the season' as she puts it. And it really spoke to me. This is what I have always done, or tried to do. But I had never thought about phrasing it quite like that. If you are stuck for something to read, do give it a go. That, or Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen which I have just devoured and adored. How I laughed! Considering how long ago she was writing, so much of it is so relevant now. In one passage, she remarks how (mostly!) the efforts a lady goes to in her dress when she is hoping to impress a new man are wasted, as men are incapable of telling one dress from another!

Well, it made me laugh!

The other thing that came to mind for me to post is just a silly little thing. But I shall post anyway, as I do love silly little things and bits of whimsy. Do you every cast your eye around your house, and see something perhaps that you have seen a hundred times before, but suddenly think just how much you love that thing? I have a large flowerpot that once was home to a sadly departed orchid. It now holds all my knitting needles and crochet hooks- from my great big 20mm needles I bought to knit a cushion for a Christmas gift, to the teeny tiny thin ones that belonged to the Mother of a friend, that I used to knit my Easter Chicks. It amuses me to see them there. Perhaps another picture to post?

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Is Life Too Short To Knit A Dishcloth?

Firstly, thank you, thank you all for your sweet comments and emails. I am still a little bit deaf and a little bit wobbly, but so much better thank you!

Today is my second day back at work- and I have been so looking forward to updating my blog!

Now to my question. Is life too short to knit a dishcloth? Before I always would have said yes and I always swore that I would not crochet those ladies who sit on toilet rolls, and I would never knit a dishcloth. It just seemed a waste to knit something that is used (in our house at least!) to wipe up spilt tea, wash the dishes, a jack of all trades as it were.

But...and didn't you just know there was going to be a but? I was at Mums last week, before I went to the doctors, and she was knitting a beautiful pattern called Chinese Waves in dishcloth cotton. It was so lovely, I resolved to have a go. And I did, and I loved it so much. The pattern is so easy, but so effective, and the cotton feels so nice flowing through my fingers. I love the rhythmic clicking of my needles, and knowing that at long last, I am making something for me!

I finished off my Chinese Waves dishcloth last night, and today cast on Grandmothers Favourite, and have several more patterns I want to try. I am using a soft oatmealy colour cotton. (Lets face it, the white would not stay white very long!)

And yet there is another but...when the girls at work ask me what I am knitting, I hate saying a dishcloth! I hate feeling like I have to explain it. I have explained it to myself, and love the idea of being able to use something I have made to clean my precious things. It is just one of those things that as you explain you hear your voice almost through someone elses ears....

Funnily enough though, no one thought it odd when I spent the last few months knitting Easter Chicks. I guess they would laugh though if they could peek through my curtains tonight! I will be poking Cadbury Creme Eggs up each and chicks rear! And then lining them up for a photoshoot as the first entry in my 'Things I Have Made' book!

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Poorly Again

Pah! I have never been an ill person. I have never been one of those people who always has something wrong and is willing to tell you about it at great length. But here I am, struck down again. I had a headache yesterday, and when I woke up this morning I had earache and a sore throat, but just down one side, and I feel miserable.

I have come into work and am sitting upstairs in the quiet amongst the map cabinets. It is a mobile phone free zone up here, which means the main noise is the tip-tap-tipping of fingers on keyboards. Strangely soothing.

My dear friend Lisa came for her weekly Monday visit where she showed me her latest crochet project- involving a tricot hook. It looks like a long knitting needle with a crochet hook on the point! She is using it to crochet some lace that she is then going to stitch onto a wide ribbon, and have a wonderful head band. While we were talking about our current craft projects (I am knitting easter chicks...still...needlepointing a minature picture of roses, and crocheting a blanket) she mentioned that every time she makes something, she takes a photograph of it to keep in a 'Things I Have Made' book. What a wonderful idea! I am going to start doing this as soon as I can find a lovely book (see how good I am at finding reasons to need new stationery items?!) It occurred to me that particularly successful things could have the pattern included too, should I want to make them again in the future...and things I have made for gifts I could make a note of who I gave it to so they dont get the same thing in a few years..and...and!

Oh, and I meant to post earlier in the week about the farmers market Sunday. Bliss! As always. It is so nice talking to people who really love what they do. I got Buffalo Mozzarella that had only been made on Monday in Rome, which we had for dinner with pasta and tomato sauce. I also treated myself to a white hyacinth in a pot. My windowsill is looking good at the moment for flowers- I have my hyacinth; a truly beateous (and fragrant) birthday bunch of pink roses and white freesias; a rip van winkle narcissus (so delightfully scruffy!Almost dandelion like) ; and last but not least, my trusty money plant. Ohh, and I have another birthday houseplant, that has big beautiful leaves and is as high as a small toddler, so that is on the floor at the moment.

I love having such lovely things to rest my eyes on at the end of a long day.

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Easter Memory

Like all the beautiful spring flowers appearing, my posts are suddenly popping up all over the place!

I was walking back to the library from doing the banking, through the park, and all the wonderful spring day we are enjoying made me think back to when I was a little girl at primary school. We were not poor, but certainly not well off either, and I remember getting to the age where the girls at school were exchanging easter eggs.

Of course I wanted to do this too, but there were not many pennies to spend, so what my lovely, wonderful Mum did was to take little Cadbury Creme Eggs, and tie each one up in one or two squares of pastel net, gathered round and tied (in the style of a high ponytale, if that makes sense!) on top with a bit of glorious ribbon, and a tiny haberdashery flower poked through the bow.

Simple but beautiful.

Full of Vitality

I know it sounds as though I am forever zipping up and down the train line to London, but honestly, before this last fortnight it had been much longer since I last visited!

Yesterday I went to the Vitality Show at Olympia. It was lovely weather, so I wore a black dress and my new cyclamen pink pashmina, and it was enough. Heaven! Highlights of the vitality show have to be the free stuff. Oh, how it abounds! Muller sponsor it, so it is yoghurts everywhere, just to help yourself to. And goodie bags when you leave, and every health magazine you can think of were offering buy the magazine, get a goody bag free. (Strangest goody- trainer socks with an accompanying assortment of shoe laces in matching colours....hmmm..!)

Lots of places were offering treatments, and pulled towards facials and manicures and so on as I always am, I demurred in favour of the most marvelous back rub. They were offering ten minutes for ten pounds, which was an entirely fabulous way to spend both the time and the pennies. They had these strange looking seats, where you lean forwards and there is a bit to tuck your legs under, but are surprisingly comfortable. Bliss...

My other treat of the day (I had some birthday money to spend) was a makeover at the Helen E stand. Last year one of the girls from the library had a makeover done there, and it was fabulous. They use very natural colours, so you look like the best version of yourself, rather than made up if that makes sense? They do half of your face first so you can see and then the other half so you are not miss-matched! I did indulge, but happily so, as one of the joyful simplicities for April (I know it was still March...but only just!) in Simple Abundance is to get a makeover and experiment with a new spring look.

Speaking of Simple Abundance, the lovely people at Amazon delivered me a copy of The Simple Abundance Companion which I am really enjoying. Has anyone else who has read Simple Abundance read this?

I am so looking forward to the Farmers Market tomorrow- I am going to go along with my new wicker basket on my arm!

I have finally got the last of the little preciousnesses for my seasonal care package for Kristy together- so I am going to spend a happy hour with tissue paper and ribbons tonight packing them up ready to be sent on Monday. I hope she likes it!

Blowing Out The Candles

Hello lovelies!

I have been away a few days again- but for delicious reasons! Thursday I was busy blowing out birthday candles! Oh, I had the most wonderful day. I love that wonderful feeling of opening little parcels, and seeing, and knowing just how much that person gets you! I was spoiled with (amongst other things) a wonderfully soft pink pashmina, a wicker basket to go shopping with, a tiered cake stand in the country roses Doulton pattern I collect, Audrey Hepburn DVDs, Violet Creams, and a wonderful tiny fruit cake, toped with marzipan and iced violets! How wonderful!

Carl was as lovely as ever- he could not have the day off, so he woke me early, and led me into the living room to find a cake he had iced (postiviely aglow with candles) surrounded by rose petals, then some presents and cards. And he took me for the most yummy-licious dinner in the evening, at a restaurant called Muddy Waters which is afloat. Dinner was a dream...and curiously, for the first time perhaps, I felt completely at ease and relaxed! Not that I am normally uptight at restaurants, but as Carl and I started dating young, I often used to feel like the teenager I was in a grown up restaurant.

I spent the day with my Mum- we went to a craft shop, then had a look around a garden nursery, and had lunch and coffee (nutmeg in the bubble and squeak- heaven!) and then home to watch the new Pride and Prejudice, and knit.

It really was a blissful day.