Tuesday, 27 February 2007

A Garden Full of Flowers

Finally, finally it is quiet. Not quite peaceful as I still have another hour of desk duty left to do out in the library. But for these five minutes, it is quiet. There is no one wanting anything of me, and I can smell the freesias on my desk. Flowers are wonderful, aren't they? I had a friend who hated them, hated them because she thought as they died, so too would the friendship with the one who had given the flowers. I could not be more different, myself. Flowers are always welcome- when I buy them for myself, I feel that they are a lovely frivolous luxury; when other people buy them for me I feel besides myself with joy; when I spy them growing wild, I feel elated; and when I buy them for other people, I feel like I have given them something special.

So, my freesias. Last week I had pink tulips on my desk. On Monday I was going to buy daffodils, but the market does not open on a Monday here, and the flower cart does not sell daffodils. But he did have these amazing freesias. I adore their scent- and nearly bought pure white ones, but instead I found myself picking up some vibrant orangey-red flame like ones. They look so delicate and graceful, the way they spread in an arch in their vase, and every time I sit at my desk (snatched moments!) they make me feel better.

On my way in to work last Monday, I saw that over the weekend, the crocuses (I want to say croak-eye) had started to come out on the far river bank in the park. I was going to post about it- they are all bright yellow. It reminds me of some gold loose eyeshadow I had when I was about 14, and thought it sooo sophisticated- and it always used to spill on the carpet a little. This is just how they croak-eye look- as though someone has spilt a giant pot of shimmering colour. By Wednesday, the purple and white ones had started to spring up too, and now it looks like confetti, everywhere. I love walking through the park for this more than anything else.

One of my favourite presents to give at the moment is an abundance of favourite flowers- I bought five bunches of daffodils for a friend last week- and then tie with ribbon around them a bar of their favourite chocolate.

Thursday last week was quite, quite horrible. I was so exhausted from work that I was in bed by 8.30 and asleep by 9! When I got home, all teary feeling and slumpy, dear lovely Carl presented me with an armful of golden yellow Chrysanthemums, which now smile at me everytime I walk into the living room.

And lovely, clever Tash- go visit www.vintagepretty.org and see what is growing in her garden!

Yes, the more I think about it, the more lovely I think flowers are. Perhaps I will make posies of paper flowers for Easter gifts this year...

Please, please, just for me, go out and treat yourself to a bunch of flowers today! Choose something that makes your sprirts brighter, and put them somewhere you can see them lots. And if you are feeling generous, buy a little bunch for someone you love, for no reason at all!

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Join Me At My Desk?

If you have ever read anything by Sarah Ban Breathnach, or Alexandra Stoddard, or have visited www.brocantehome.typepad.com, you will be familiar with the idea of ‘puttery treats; or doing little simple buy gorgeous things to make your life that bit more scrumptious.

In my own mind, I think of it as ‘brocante-ing’ something. And just now, maybe because it is February, maybe because I have just read Alexandra Stoddard’s ‘Living a Beautiful Life’ again, or maybe just because, I have been doing a lot of Brocante-ing. My most recent brocante-ing adventure has been with my desk at work.

If you had sat at my desk a day or two ago, I am afraid you would have been rather shocked. Working in a library means piles of books that want attention, and papers, and notes, and, well, stuff. And while being a natural hoarder is wonderful when I am at home cooking or crafting, at work it is not conducive to feeling orderly at all.

But if you were to be able to come and visit me today, you would be happy to sit at my desk. The wood has been polished (a little ritual I intend to repeat each evening, as it will have to be uncluttered if I want to polish it) and smells nice. There is a lot of bare wood now, and at the back of my desk, working left to right, first is my in-tray, which is no longer impersonating the leaning tower of Pisa; then a box of lavender tissues, which not only have sprigs of lavender printed on them but are lavender scented as well! Then you come to my pen pot, which is no longer crammed with bits of this, tubes of that, but is full of lovely sharp pencils. Now you come to my ‘comfort box’ in which is my mug, peach tea bags, peppermint teabags and decaffeinated teabags, along with a tube of discs of dark Swiss chocolate. I have slipped a black-and-white picture of Carl and me in the front of the box, so I see us smiling together every time I have a cup of tea! At the end of my desk, as far right as you can go is a collection of folders to hold all my paperwork, and in front of that is a vase of glorious pink tulips. I have flowers on my desk! It is so lovely to have a splash of colour in the room. When they fade, I am going to have daffodils, just like at home. Finally, in front of those is a small pile of books library books that I have chosen for me- at the moment, ‘Hip to Stitch’ ‘Romantic Weddings’ ‘Wedding Inspirations’ (you see the theme, non?) and lastly ‘The Little Lady Agency’ which is a lovely fiction book that belongs to me, and I am re-reading for fun.

Something I have started doing when I buy books, is to note in them my name, and the date I have bought them. If I can find a review of them in a paper or online, I like to print that out, and stick it in too. If I re-read something, I note that date too. I would really like to design my own bookplates, but I think that is a project for another day…

It seems to me that where we work makes up such a big part of the day that it is a shame not to prettify and personalise it as far as you can. I would rather someone was told that my desk is ‘the one with vase of flowers’ than ‘the one all piled up with stuff’!

We open tomorrow. I am feeling quite nervous…wish us luck! But at least I know that I have my pretty desk to retreat to now, and when I go home, my freshly Brocanted bed- which is a story for another day!

Friday, 16 February 2007

Tag-I'm It!


I do worry that with the time I have been away, refurbishing the library and moving shelves, and shelves of books, that when I come back here, there will be no one left. If I promise to come back on Wednesday, and to be really chatty, and to give you some nice recipes and things, will you stay? Go on, please!

For you see, the end of the re-furb is in sight. I have got grubbier hands moving more books that I ever thought possible. But best of all I am responsible for two of our pillars being painted a bright lilac colour!

Now lovely Alison at Brocante Home has tagged me with this questionnaire. I have just spent an enjoyable tea break filling it in, and I am glad to finally get a chance to post on my blog. You would not believe how much I miss my little ramblings and meanderings. So here it is- oh, but before I do that, Vintage Pretty, I tag you! And I love, love, love your new blog. Go on everyone, go visit www.vintagepretty.org and say hello from me!

Oh and before you start reading, you might want to make yourself a cup of tea, and perhaps a teensy slice of scrumptious cake...

1. If you could build a house anywhere, where would it be?
Ooooh. Now I have a real broodyness for a house going on at the moment. I have only been living ‘away from home’ for three years, and all of them in a rented little one bedroom flat .Which although cosy and divine as it is, does not satisfy my yearning for somewhere old…so rather than building my house, I would need to find an old one. I want somewhere where I can paper one wall in flowery wall paper, and paint the others in Cath Kidston paint. Make it my own, you know? So my lovely house, in my mind, is somewhere in the country. With a big garden-allotment, and chickens clucking about, and a little village. Where going to town is an event, but I have a little village store to keep me going. Maybe Turnham Malpas, if you have read Rebecca Shaw, or Hazy Hassocks if you have read Christina Jones, or even the Cotswolds of Agatha Raisin….

2. What's your favorite article of clothing?
My wedding dress. Does that count though, as I have not ‘officially’ worn it yet? I have a black galaxy-style dress that I always feel a million dollars in. But I wear more often a Victoian-style white nightie. I like to drift about the place in it on summer evenings.

3. Favorite physical feature of the opposite sex?
Hmmm. Well I like how they are just bigger than us. And stronger. I guess I am just a damsel waiting to be rescued, really! There is something quite swoon-inducing in struggling with a huge trug of books, and then a nice man coming over and lifting it down for me as if it were a feather pillow!

4.What's the last CD that you bought?
Deary me. Confession. One of the perks of working in a library is that I am surrounded by music! So most often, I borrow something from work. Currently I am just LOVING the Puppini sisters. But the last album I bought? Hmmm. I have to say though that since I have been living in our little flat, I don’t listen to music as much as I used to. Now there is someone else to consider- his taste, mood etc. But I have planned as part of my ‘making life scrumptious’ campaign to have more music- soothing stuff to sleep or relax to and so on.

5.Where's your favorite place to be?
Bed. With a cup of tea, radio 4, a pile of books that I cannot wait to read or re-read, (think Mrs Miniver, The Enchanted April, etc) some magazines, and the newspaper. Ohh, and my feather pillows all fluffed up, and my peppermint and nutmeg pillow spray scenting the air. Mmmmmm.

6. Where is your least favorite place to be?
The Hairdresser. Oh, it is torture for me. I never, EVER like the way they have cut my hair. Even though it needs a trim to keep it tidy, I still wish I hadn’t. And being a bit deaf in one ear, and not having the best hearing in the other, it is really, really hard for me to hear what they are chattering about. It gets worse when they put the hairdryer on. And why do they get you a cup of tea, and then put a cape thing on you, so you cannot drink it? So many times I have sat there and watched it get cooler and cooler, along with my spirits!

7.What's your favorite place to be massaged?
My feet. Oh, how I love a foot rub. And oh, how dear Carl hates giving them to me! He has been known to say, in response to my hopeful sliding-of-feet into his lap, ‘take those trotters AWAY!’. Poor me.

8.Strong in mind or strong in body?
Am I, or would I like to be? I like to think both. But then I do have an awful weakness for violet creams, and lindt chocolate. Then again, I have been low-carbing for nearly 4 weeks now (and eight pounds down, hurrah!). As for the body- well, again, I like to think perhaps yes. I did do the Moonwalk Marathon and live to tell the tale. But I do get an awful lot of ear infections, and my joints are ever so creaky.

9.What time do you wake up in the morning?
Some time between 6:00 and 6:30. Radio 4 kicks in at 6 and I am usually awake before my alarm clock goes off at 6.35. Even when we have a treat of a lie-in sometimes on a Saturday, I never seem to sleep after 8:00 or 9:00. In fact, I totally shocked myself by sleeping till 10:30 boxing day- although I think it was 2:00 before I had made it to bed…

10. What is your favorite kitchen appliance?
My multiquick. Oh, I love it. Normally, I dither over buying most things. Not this. Sainsburys had it for half price (still £30ish I think) but I just marched right up to the display, seized it, and paid for it. The thing with a dear little flat is that they tend to have dear little kitchens, and not much room for such things as food processors. This magical thing is a stick blender, whisk, and food processor all in one. Ok so the food processor bit only has one blade and the bowl is about as big as a cereal bowl, but it is just right for two. Egg whites for macaroons? Done! Breadcrumbs for chicken kiev? Done! Soup blended? Done! I could go on…but suffice to say that when I am in my flowery pinny with my Multiquick at my side, there is no kitchen adventure too big to tackle! (Apart, perhaps, from cleaning the oven!)

11.What makes you really angry?
I try not to get angry too much. All the obvious things, like racism, ignorance and so on. Quite often myself- when I realise I just can’t do everything I need to in the time I have got, or my memory has let me down, or I have to ask someone to repeat something for the third time, and I can feel my face get all hot. Oh and bad punctuation. Signs that say CD’s and bra’s fitted now and euro’s exchanged here. Ridiculous, but true. Bad punctuation makes me angry! I have had to restrain myself from correcting signs before now…but before you sign me off as a punctuation-hitler, I am not angered by people who punctuate badly in personal correspondence, blogs and so on. It is more public signs and books and things.

12. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
The piano. I have a vision of myself, in my little farmhousey-cottage in the country (see question one!). It is Christmas Eve, and the place is all lit with candles, and I am playing carols on the piano while my family sings along. And of course, I could also pretend it was the pianoforte, and I am Lizzy, and Mr Darcy is just over there…

13. Favorite color?
I like the many shades of pink and red. I have a red wrap dress that I wear with red patent high sling-backs with a bow on the peep-toe, and red lipstick. I love that. But when I chose my wedding colours, I went for blue and pink. My tea-towels are blue with pink roses. So perhaps blue, as well.

14.Which do you prefer...sports car or SUV?
Gah. I know nothing, NOTHING about cars. When a customer asks me for a workshop manual, and reels off a list of random letters ‘gti s type e series’ my heart just sinks. And I don’t drive either. (Although I guess I should learn before buying that house in the country!). If money were no object I would have a little vintage sports car. Maybe bottle green, but oooh, how about red?

15. Do you believe in an afterlife?
I think so. I hope so.

16.Favorite children's book?
Dear readers, my name is Mimi, and I am a bookworm. Always have been, always will. How can I possible choose one favourite from all the squillions that I have devoured? My frequent complaint, even now, is that books run out of pages. I loved so many. There was one about a giant jam sandwich which was used to trap some bothersome wasps (and I do hate wasps!) and the one that starts ‘In a dark dark wood, there was a dark dark house, and in the dark dark house was a dark dark room’ and on it goes, to reveal that the thing in the dark dark box is….a little mouse!

17. What is your favorite season?
Any and all except for summer. It is no use, it is just too hot. I never feel very elegant in the heat. Spring is lovely- daffodils and baby lambs and warmer days and blossom (I saw my first crocus last week!), little dresses that it is warm enough to wear, Easter, my Birthday. What is not to love? Autumn- all those scrunchy leaves, wearing snugly scarves, darker nights and candlelight. Pumpkin carving and sparklers. Winter- Christmas, stars bright in the sky, wrapping up warm, and buying hyacinths. Oh, such bliss. But Summer? Well there is ice cream, I suppose!

18. Your least favorite household chore?
The shopping. Well no, I actually love the shopping. What I hate is always, ALWAYS being the one to plan out what we are going to eat for the week, make a shopping list for it, buy some bits in my lunch hour from the lovely market greengrocer, and then go to the supermarket, and then put it all away, and then cook it. Before I give the wrong impression, Carl does do the washing up quite often, and all of the laundry. I just wish sometimes that I could go home and have no idea what is for dinner- and not because I have not thought ahead, but because someone else has.

19.If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Ooooh. One super power. Hmmmm. I think I would like to have a magical nose, just like in Bewitched. Wriggle wriggle, the shopping list is written! Wriggle wriggle, the boring bit of my crochet is done, and I am on to the fun pattern part again. Wriggle wriggle, a white china cup of perfect hot chocolate appears, without any sludge in the bottom at all, and just the right amount of chopped nuts on top.

20.If you have a tattoo, what is it?
I love that no one would ever, ever think I have a tattoo. But I do. I got it five years ago, when I was nineteen. It is a tiny rose, with the words ‘Carpe Diem’ around the edge, and it is on my left ribs. I love it. I am not really a ‘tattoo person’ if such a thing can be defined. No one can see it unless I choose to show them. I showed Mum the other day and she was really nice about it. (I guessed she would see it when I am getting into my wedding dress, and I would rather her know before then!) She asked when I had had it done, and then said I should show my little brother as he will be rather impressed!

21.Can you juggle?
Mais oui! I can do three balls tolerably well! Although I do have sudden attacks of dropping them everywhere. Ever since I was young, I have liked acquiring random skills. So I can juggle three balls quite well, crochet doilies, and abseil down a 200foot building. I can order a hamburger in Spanish, and bake perfect macaroons.

22. The one person from your past that you wish you could go back and talk to?
I could not possibly choose between my grandma and my granddad. So I won’t. I will be greedy and say both.

23. What's your favorite day?
My Friday off work, every other week. I usually spend it with Mum, and we often end up in a craft shop, or having lunch, knitting together or something. I also like Sundays as I never ever have to work on that day. Monday nights one of my best friends comes to visit and we craft together. I like most days, really.

24. What's in the trunk of your car?
See question 14- no car. But in poor Carls car there is often a pile of books. In my little vintage sports car, the one that I would have if I could have any car, and could, in fact drive, there is probably a picnic hamper, a bottle of champagne, and some embroidery. Oh, and a book. Or two…

25. Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger?
There is an amazing place in the town where I live, called Ancient Lights. It is painted deep red, and there are crystal chandeliers, and huge gilt-framed mirrors inside. There are lots of candles, and they do real, proper cocktails. The barman does all the throwing-the-bottle-over-his-shoulder thing. And as well as fabulous cocktails, they do gourmet burgers which are to die for. Organic meat, and then you choose your roll, goats cheese or cheddar, and they come served with a jenga stack of chunky hot chips. And two evil dill pickles that I only tolerate for as long as it takes me to evict them on to Carls plate. But on the strength of this, a real proper burger and a minty mojito cocktail, I take the burger over the sushi please!

See you Wednesday!